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Bureaucracy in trade facilitations irks EABC

Bureaucracy in trade facilitations irks EABC

THE East African Business Council (EABC) Chief Executive Officer John Bosco Kalisa has accused regional trade facilitation agencies of propagating bureaucracies.

Mr Kalisa noted with concern the dismal performance of the agencies in addressing Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).

“It is saddening to witness long queues at border posts, this is not good at all in the quest of promoting regional trade,” explained Mr Kalisa, while hosting Rwanda’s Ambassador to Tanzania, Major General Charles Karamba recently.

The EABC boss further opined that regional trade integration was a cornerstone of EAC Partner States’ trade policies, insisting that it was prudent for the agencies to take a leading role in promoting intra-regional trade.

“Our trade facilitation institutions have become NTBs instead of being an enabler of doing business in the community,” he said.

Mr Kalisa’s assertion comes three months after Tanzania and Kenya agreed to resolve 30 NTBs that jeopardised trade between the two countries.

Among other things, the two countries agreed to grant cement products from Tanzania a preferential treatment, where it was also established that Tanzania had started implementing the Single Window System, which has significantly reduced delays in clearance of pineapple juice produced in Kenya.

The EAC member states also agreed to establish a Permanent Implementation Committee to monitor implementation of decisions agreed upon in the bilateral meetings, to champion the process of harmonisation of domestic taxes, levies and fees within the EAC. It will also ensure compliance with the Rules of Origin to be upheld and preferential treatment to be accorded to products that qualify, and in case of doubt, to expedite the process of verification and implementation of the recommendation.

 

Meanwhile, Mr Kalisa lauded the strong commitment demonstrated by the regional growth in promoting Intra-regional trade.

He added that all partner states acknowledged the support of the private sector in the cause.

The EAC Trade and Investment Report shows that the value of intra-regional trade increased 9.4 per cent to 5.98 billion US dollars in 2018 from 5.46 billion US dollars in 2017.

This growth was partly attributable to EAC member countries’ increased preference to trading with each other to offset falling demand for the region’s products in European and US markets.

According to the report, all EAC member states save for Burundi recorded growth in trade with their regional counterparts.

Recently, the East African Community Secretary General, Peter Mathuki, urged the private sector to take advantage of the ongoing bilateral engagements between Partner States, to promptly resolve trade disputes so as to increase trade among EAC Partner States.

Dr Mathuki further called upon the private sector to promptly harmonise their positions on trade agreements at the national level before engaging their counterparts in other Partner States to fast-track trade deliberations.

“Regular consultations and dialogues within the national private sector bodies are critical in building consensus within a Partner State. Divergent positions within a country will only delay in concluding trade deliberations at the regional level, further delaying implementation of regional trade policies,” said Dr Mathuki.

He called upon the business community to push for Public-Private Partnerships, citing the increased trade flows between Kenya and Tanzania, resulting from public and private bilateral dialogues in recent months. 

The SG attributed the significant increase in trade to bilateral meetings by the Heads of State of Tanzania and Kenya in May 2021.

According to data from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) published by the Central Bank of Kenya, Kenya’s imports from Tanzania grew by 70 per cent from January 2021 to June 2021, compared to the same period last year. The statistics indicate that the value of goods ordered by Kenya from Tanzania stood at 167.5 million US dollars in the stated period. The same data shows that Kenya’s export to Tanzania dipped by 21.39 per cent (158 million US dollars), resulting in a rare deficit of 9.3 million US dollars.

Further, the Secretary General noted the trade volumes at the Namanga border increased sixfold last month, compared to a similar period last year.

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Author: EDWARD QORRO in Arusha

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