As East African region braces for the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State Summit this Friday, the region’s private sector has asked for deeper engagement in resolving economic challenges facing the bloc.
In a telephone interview with ‘Daily News’ yesterday, East African Business Council (EABC) Executive Director, Mr Peter Mathuki observed that issues like the removal of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), ease of doing business and trade facilitation will only be resolved if the private sector gets fully engaged in matters of integration.
“The private sector needs to be fully involved in its entirety in integration issues; we no longer want to be mere observers but actors in this matter,” explained Mr Mathuki.
The EABC boss pointed out that it’s imperative for the six Heads of State who will be converging in Arusha this week to highlight issues like NTBs and other bottlenecks that hamper the growth of business among partner states.
“This is why we are calling for continuous engagement with the governments and the public sectors to ensure that such issues are discussed and resolved for good,” insisted Mr Mathuki.
According to the EABC boss, the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC stipulates that the integration process be people-driven with the private sector as the engine of economic growth.
He assured that the council will continue to work with the public sector, EAC institutions, the academia, and the business community to unlock economic potential through increased physical access to markets, enhanced trade environment and improved business competitiveness Since the establishment of the EAC, the region has seen a steady strengthening of economic and political ties among the community’s partner states.
In 2005, the EAC introduced Customs and a Common Market in 2009, to achieve free circulation of goods, people, services and capital among the five East African Partner States.
However, trade in East Africa is still riddled with a number of non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs).
The persistence of NTBs still affects trade flows, and reduces the benefits to be gained from the regional integration process.
Leaders from the six EAC partners are due to meet in Arusha this week for the much awaited ordinary meeting of the Heads of State Summit.
The high profile meeting comes amidst postponement and unusual rescheduling caused by Burundi’s failure to neither attend or send representatives to Arusha.