60th Independence Anniversary: EAC hails TZ’s  contribution to regional integration

60th Independence Anniversary: EAC hails TZ’s contribution to regional integration

THE East African Community (EAC) has hailed Tanzania for her extensive contribution towards deepening regional integration and in turn increasing intra-EAC trade and development opportunities, as the country turns 60 years since independence.

As one of the three founding partner states of the Community, Tanzania plays an integral role in the region, serving as one of the three original member states of the EAC who signed the Treaty establishing the EAC on 30 thNovember 1999, which entered into force on 7th July, 2000.

EAC Secretary General, Dr Peter Mathuki underscored Tanzania’s critical role in the region, as she serves as the host of the EAC Headquarters in Arusha.

“We hail the Republic of Tanzania for steering growth and development in the country and also fostering peace and security. It is this stability that has created a conducive operating environment for the EAC and its organs, with their home in Tanzania,” said Dr Mathuki.

“The city of Arusha is the permanent seat of the East African Community Secretariat, the executive organ of the Community, and the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), the legislative organ of the Community,” said Dr Mathuki, adding that Arusha is also the temporary seat of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), the judicial organ of the Community. 

The country also hosts the East African Kiswahili Commission (EAKC) that is based in the island of Zanzibar. Tanzania continues to benefit from regional integration of the EAC. In 2020, Tanzania’s total trade with EAC partner states amounted to $1,136.9m, higher than $1,003.6m in 2019.

Tanzania has been recording trade balance surpluses since 2016, reflecting its increase in exports to other partner states. Most of the country’s exports to the region are destined to Kenya, followed by Rwanda and Uganda. Its main exports to other partner states include cereals, particularly rice and maize. Also there are cattle, vegetables (mostly onions), paper and paper products, coffee, tea and spices.

Tanzania’s significant imports are from Kenya and Uganda. Most of the imported goods are soap and soap products, pharmaceutical products, plastic items, sugar confectionery and electric equipment.

Further, in 2020, the total trade for the EAC region stood at $51,915m from $55,278.2m in 2019, a 6.08 per cent drop. In the same period, total EAC exports rose by 3.15 per cent to 16,257 million US dollars from 15,938 million US dollars in 2019.

President Samia Suluhu’s stance on improving bilateral relations has also seen an increase in intra EAC trade in the last nine months she has been in office, according to Dr Mathuki.

As a signatory to the Customs Union - the first regional integration milestone and critical foundation of the EAC, the country has contributed to the promotion of efficiency in production within the Community. It has also enhanced domestic, cross border and foreign investment in the Community.

 Further, the establishment of the EAC Single Customs Territory has aided in facilitating faster clearance and movement of cargo from the port of entry to the destination.

Dr Mathuki also acknowledged the critical role played by Tanzania peace and security in East Africa, adding that the country’s role had been crucial in the area of conflict prevention, management and resolution.

“Tanzania has been the home of Burundians and other refugees for a long time. Mwalimu (Julius) Nyerere was at the heart of the conclusion of the Arusha Accord that brought stability to Burundi in 2000 and again through the late President Benjamin Mkapa’s facilitation promoted inter-Burundi dialogue between 2015 and 2019, an initiative that resulted in peaceful elections in 2020 that saw restoration of democracy and peace. The peaceful conclusion of the 2020 election has led to the commencement of the peaceful return of Burundian refugees, a process that is still underway,” said the Secretary General.

Dr Mathuki singled out maritime security as an area where Tanzania has made an immense contribution, especially on the Indian Ocean.

“Tanzania has the longest coastline in the EAC region. Tanzania has, through working with other coastal states, supported the process of combating piracy and other maritime offences that has ultimately led to the restoration of security in the Indian Ocean. Through her security interventions and partnership with other like-minded states, large quantities of narcotics have been seized and destroyed and traffickers arrested and subjected to the legal system,” said the SG.

On efforts to combat terrorism, Tanzania has directly contributed to stability in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where it is part of the African Union (AU) Rapid Intervention Brigade that decimated M23 rebel group and again in Mozambique as part of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) intervention team to bring peace in the northern region of the southern African country,” said Dr Mathuki.

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