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Business leaders chart East Africa policy priorities

Business leaders chart East Africa policy priorities

THE East African industry leaders are charting out regional policy priorities to spur intra- EAC trade.

The policy priorities are geared to spur intra-EAC trade to over 30 per cent, with leaders convening at Arusha, Tanzania, set to present the same to the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat.

The meeting was set to conclude just hours before the new EAC Secretary General, Dr Peter Mathuki assumed office Friday.

The plans were also in a bid to see how the new vision of transforming the EAC into a prosperous, inclusive, trade and investment bloc is implemented.

“As the industry leaders we have analysed key trade and investment barriers, delaying East African businesses to take full advantage of the EAC Customs Union and Common Market,” said Mr John Bosco Rusagara representing the East African Business Council (EABC) Chairman, Mr Nick Nesbitt at the meeting.

At table, by Thursday evening, were finalisation of the comprehensive review of the EAC Common External Tariff (CET) to boost industrialisation and regional value chains.

Also, on cards were looking for a quick elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and operationalisation of the Committee on Trade Remedies to handle trade disputes.

Partner states will be looking on how to implement the Standardisation Accreditation and Conformity Assessment (SACA) Bill, 2017 and finalisation of the Regulations on Free Movement of Services and Service Suppliers are among the top agenda.

The business leaders have also urged the EAC Secretariat to mainstream and progressively harmonise domestic taxes such as excise duty, Value Added Tax (VAT) and Income Tax.

Domestication of EAC Air Space by according national treatment to EAC national air operators, passengers and cargo will reduce air ticket cost hence attract more tourists into the region plus boost consolidation and exports of fresh horticultural and fish.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted global, regional value chains and cross border business operations; this calls for the need of harmonization of measures and regional coordinated approach on handling Covid-19 shall boost economic resilience and growth of the EAC bloc,” said Mr Rusagara who is also EABC Director.

The East Africa private sector was expected to present the regional priority issues during the Evening Gala Dinner with EAC SG yesterday, themed ‘Deepening Collaboration Between the EAC and the Private Sector’.

The Evening Reception was organized in partnership with GIZ- Business Scouts for Development Program, funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation - BMZ. EABC is the regional apex body of private sector associations and Corporates from the six EAC- member countries.

It was established in 1997 to foster the interests of the private sector in the integration process of the EAC It envisions a borderless East Africa for business and investment with a primary mission to promote sustainable private sector-driven growth in the EAC.

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