EAC set up priorities for  increasing trade volume

EAC set up priorities for increasing trade volume

THE Secretary-General of the East African Community (EAC), Dr Peter Mathuki, has identified key priorities which he would take on board during his tenure, including increasing the volume of trade among member states and completing the Common External Tariff.

Speaking with Journalists in Dar es Salaam on Saturday after meeting President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Dr Mathuki appealed to the Head of States to offer him maximum cooperation so that he could discharge his mandates effectively for the interest of citizens within the Community.

According to him, having been elected to the post on April 25, 2021, he found it proper to have special missions to meet with Heads of State for official introductions, thanking them for trusting him and possibly getting guidance on potential areas that needed to be dealt with by him as Secretary General.

“I started meeting President Paul Kagame, thereafter I met Salva Kirr, President of Burundi, Uganda and now I have just met her Excellence President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who directed me to work on employment issue to youths as well as creating a conducive environment to the private sector,” he said.

Dr Mathuki said that he met with the Tanzania Private Sector, Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Zanzibar Chamber of Commerce, Tanzania Private Sector Foundation and the Confederation of Tanzania Industries and realized that the volume of doing business in the EAC was less than 15 per cent.

He said that business persons were complaining that there were too many problems surrounding the export of goods from one country to another.

“My goal and my colleagues is to look into this matter seriously and ensure the business volume increases from 15 to 40 per cent,” said the SecretaryGeneral.

He was, however, quick to point out that such ambition would be successful if the long-standing non-tariff barriers would be removed. Dr Mathuki said that there were many challenges at the border that needed to be addressed.

The secretary-general promised to bring together both private and the public sectors to find a way to address those challenges. He said that there was a committee called the Trade Remedy Committee, of which they have asked member states to form the same, which would focus on non-tariff barrier issues.

Dr Mathuki was also ambitious to have the Common External Tariff process completed as in the EAC, there are different tariff standards. He said there were Customs Union and Common Market standards while in Customs Union there was a single work frame of Common External Taxation for products imported from outside the Community.

“Common External Tariff process has not been completed because there are challenges. So it has to come to an end so that traders have the motivation to manufacture or produce their products from different countries and sell them in the community,” he said.

The secretary-general gave examples in Europe where the trade volume was 70 per cent for intertrade, whereas in Asian countries the rate was at about 60 per cent, while in the EAC it was less than 15 per cent.

“Increasingly the volume of trade will be of great benefit to the people among the members in the Community including the increase in youth employment. This is because the industry will have a lot to do and thus stimulate economic growth,” said Dr Mathuki.

He recalled when speaking to President Samia he was told that state members of the Community should look for ways to find employment opportunities for the youth because if such matters would not be taken seriously, it would be very dangerous, especially in economic and security matters.

The secretary-general pointed out that he would do everything in his power as the Chief Administrator to ensure that citizens from member states see the community as their own and that it was there for the benefit of the people by the Treaty establishing the EAC.

On his part, the Deputy Secretary-General, Engineer Steve Mlote, described in detail the development of road infrastructure that connects countries of member states to facilitate communication and commercial activities among the people. He explained that Tanzania borders almost all EAC countries except South Sudan.

Therefore, the deputy secretary was of the view that for citizens to do business it was necessary to connect Tanzania with those countries. Eng. Mlote noted that Tanzania and Kenya are the countries with ports, so efforts were being made to connect Kenya with all countries so that citizens could do business and cargo from outside the community through those ports reaches countries that do not have ports.

In the case of Tanzania and Kenya, he named a road project from Malindi to Mombasa, Lungalunga, Tanga and later Bagamoyo to Pangani. He said that in the project detailed design for construction of the road as well as the Pangani Bridge with a length of about 500 meters on the Tanzanian side was going on.

“Another project linking Tanzania and Kenya is the road from Arusha via Moshi to Hariri to Taveta where the road belongs to the East African Community and Horiri-Taveta on the Kenyan side has already been built and work is underway on the Tanzanian side,” the deputy secretary-general said.

He said there was another project in Kenya and Tanzania, which is the East African road project from Arusha to Namanga to Athi River in Kenya, which has greatly helped reduce the congestion of trucks in Arusha City. In the case of Tanzania and Uganda, the deputy secretary general said that the detailed design of the road from Masaka in Uganda to Mtukula, Kyaka to Bugene Karagwe to Kasuru to Rwanda has been completed.

“The road will greatly facilitate Rwanda and Burundi in doing business where Kenya can bring cargo by ship until Bukoba and Rwanda and Burundi can take the cargo from Bukoba via the road to their home countries,” he said.

According to him, there was Usahunga-Lusumo road which has been designed and the Tanzanian government continues with construction.

There is another project called Nyakanazi, Kasuru, Manyovu to Bujumbura, with 260km on the Tanzania side and about 45km on the Burundi side which is under construction. He mentioned another project as the one from Vikonge Mpanda, Uvinza connecting Nyakanazi, Kasuru and Kibondo, a road which proceeds to Mabamba in Burundi.

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