he East African Community has proposed creation of a hotline number where traders will report Non-tariff Barriers at One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) following a recent meeting between President Uhuru Kenya and his Tanzania counterpart Samia Suluhu Hassan that agree to increase trade between the two neighbours.
In a recent tour to the Namanga OSBP, Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki, the new EAC Secretary General said that the trader’s count is on time, which affects their business.
Recently. Kenya announced that it scrapped work visa and permit requirements for Tanzanian nationals in an effort to boost trade and tourism between the two countries, fast-tracking implementation of the East African Common Market Protocol to allow workers to move freely in the region.
President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the new visa rule during a joint session of Kenya and Tanzanian business community in Nairobi.
President Kenyatta said the move would allow Tanzanians to enter the country without restrictions and work freely, attracting foreign investment and boosting tourism without compromising national security.
“The objective is to strengthen our two economies by promoting easy movement of goods and people,” said President Kenyatta.
“We would like to see many investors from Tanzania coming to do business in Kenya. And I want to say this, Tanzanian investors are free to come and do business in Kenya. The only thing you will be required to do is to follow the laid down regulations and the laws that are in place,” he added.
Diplomatic and trade spats between the two countries have been cited in the past for risking regional integration, denying citizens the dream of a common market.
Industry Captains late last month convened in Arusha, Tanzania to chart out regional policy priorities geared to spur intra-EAC trade to over 30%.
“As the industry leaders, we have analysed key trade and investment barriers, delaying East African businesses to take full advantage of the EAC Customs Union and Common Market,” said Mr. John Bosco Rusagara representing EABC Chairman Mr. Nick Nesbitt at the meeting.
Finalization of the comprehensive review of the EAC Common External Tariff (CET) to boost industrialization and regional value chains; the quick elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers and operationalization of the Committee on Trade Remedies to handle trade disputes, Implementation of the Standardization Accreditation and Conformity Assessment (SACA) Bill, 2017; and finalization of the Regulations on Free Movement of Services and Service Suppliers were discussed.
The business leaders also urged the EAC Secretariat to mainstream and progressively harmonize domestic taxes such as excise duty, Value Added Tax (VAT) and Income Tax.
Domestication of EAC Air Space by according to national treatment to EAC national air operators, passengers and cargo will reduce air ticket cost hence attract more tourists into the region plus boost consolidation and exports of fresh horticultural and fish.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global, regional value chains and cross border business operations, this calls for the need of harmonization of measures and regional coordinated approach on handling COVID-19 shall boost economic resilience and growth of the EAC bloc,” said Rusagara.