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Non-tariff Barriers a Thorn in East Africa’s Growth Potential – Official

More efforts are needed to eliminate trade barriers to spur growth in the East African region, a senior official has said.

Director General-Customs and Trade at the EAC Secretariat, Mr. Kenneth Bagamuhunda, said, “despite the progress being made, a lot needs to be done in regard to Non-Tariff Barriers to Trade to move goods across borders, services and capital.”

Bagamuhunda was Wednesday speaking at the opening Session of Senior Officials during a meeting of the Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) at the EAC headquarters in Arusha.

ChimpReports understands the persistence of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) still affects trade flows, and reduces the benefits to be gained from the regional integration process.

Documentation and procedures, too many agencies involved in overall export inspection and certification in the region, escort of all sensitive and hazardous products through the territory of each East Africa Community (EAC) transit country, and verification of transit cargo remain a challenge.

Other NTBs include lack of harmonization in working hours at the border posts, delays at weighbridges, multiple police road blocks and mobile control, prohibition on transportation of locally produced goods, and EAC transit licenses for goods.

Truck entrance fees and grace period, business registration, use of immigration and visa procedures, poor information dissemination across the East Africa community, language barrier, and insecurity/ highway crimes/loss of goods at the container freight stations remain non-tariff barriers to trade in EAC.

Bagamuhunda reaffirmed that the foundations of the EAC were premised on trade and economic integration hence the SCTIFI is the driver of the integration process.

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The DG said the EAC was now getting to 20 years after signing the Treaty in November 1999 and coming into force, 13 years of implementing the Customs Union and eight (8) years of implementing the Common Market Protocol.

He said the year 2018 was a turning point whereby the EAC was undertaking a comprehensive review of the EAC Common External Tariff and Customs Management Act 2004.

He disclosed that the EAC Competition Authority was now operational but constrained by a limited number of Staff.

The ongoing SCTIFI is considering, among other things, the status of implementation of the directives and decisions of its meeting held on 30th May, 2018; Reports of the Sectoral Committee on Customs, Sectoral Committee on Trade, and Sectoral Committee on Investment. It is also considering the EAC Competition Authority matters.

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