The East African Community has declared Fridays as ‘Afrika Mashariki Fashion Day’ during which East Africans will wear attires manufactured in the region.
The 36th Extra-Ordinary Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) further declared the 1st Week of September an ‘Afrika Mashariki Fashion Week’ to be held annually as a Trade Fair and Exhibition of EAC designed textiles and garments.
The SCTIFI urged EAC Partner States that produce cotton to set up national cotton lint buffer stock mechanisms to ensure all year-round availability of locally produced cotton lint to spinning mills.
The Ministerial Session of the 36th SCTIFI which was chaired by Rwanda’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Ms. Soraya M. Hakuziyaremye, approved the Final Draft Cotton, Textile and Apparels (CTA) Strategy and the Implementation Roadmap.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Hakuziyaremye said that for the EAC region to reap maximum benefits from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), it was imperative to enhance the region’s productive capacity. Ms. Hakuziyaremye called for urgent implementation of a number of outstanding EAC Summit decisions and directives especially in the textile, leather and automotive industries, in addition to resolving Non-Tariff Barriers.
She reminded the Ministers that AfCTA Summit had directed that the implementation of the agreement should commence by 1st July, 2020 necessitating EAC Partner States to conclude their Tariff Offers by the agreed dates.
The Ministers called on Partner States to give priority to the implementation of the Cotton, Textiles and Apparels (CTA) Strategy by providing budgets for the activities, as relevant to specific countries, in the 2020/2021 Financial Year.
The SCTIFI directed the Standards Committee to assess and advise on feasibility of the Pre-shipment Verification of Conformity (PVoC) of all imports of textiles and ready-made garments (RMGs) into the region, as a measure to control illicit imports of worn out or used textiles and garments.
The meeting further approved the Draft Leather and Leather Products Sector Strategy and the Implementation Roadmap, and urged Partner States to give priority to the implementation of the Strategy by including the activities, as relevant to each country, in the next Financial Year’s national budgets.
On Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), the SCTIFI directed Partner States to eliminate all the outstanding NTBs from the EAC Time Bound Programme. The Ministers further directed the Secretariat to always schedule a one-day session of Ministers with the East African Business Council and other Private Sector stakeholders before every SCTIFI to deliberate on issues of concern to the private sector including NTBs.
The recommendations of these engagements would then be escalated to the Council of Ministers and eventually the Summit. It was noted that among the causes of NTBs include: non-harmonisation of excise duty amongst Partner States; lack of a common framework for harmonisation of local content; multiple trade facilitation agencies; persistent stays of application; non-implementation of recommendations from studies and verification missions, and; non-recognition of standards quality marks.