he East Africa Community (EAC) has established a Private Sector Desk to enhance trade and investment in the region. This desk will serve as an interface between the private sector and the Secretariat, thereby enabling the Secretariat to promptly address issues hampering regional trade, according to Dr Peter Mathuki, EAC Secretary General.
“For the private sector to flourish, there is a need for an enabling environment, one which is free from trade barriers,” he said.
Under the theme “Enhancing a Private Sector led Integration & Emerging Opportunities in East Africa,” the East Africa Business Council (EABC) presented a list of key issues hampering trade in the region during the event.
The EABC singled out some of the pressing issues calling for urgent resolution that includes: finalization of the comprehensive review of the Common External Tariff (CET); harmonization of domestic taxes; harmonization of product standards, and; the activation of the EAC Disputes Settlement Mechanism.
Also present at the private sector round table engagement dinner were East African Legislative Assembly Speaker, Rt. Hon. Martin Ngoga, East African Court of Justice Judge President, Justice Nestor Kayobera, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Eng. Steven Mlote, EACJ Registrar, His Worship Yufnalis Okubo, and EAC Director of Human Resources and Administration, Ms. Ruth Simba.
Speaking during the event, Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Hon. Amb. Liberata Mulamula, reaffirmed Tanzania’s commitment to regional integration and enhancing intra-EAC trade.
“We can all bear witness that the trade issues between Kenya and Tanzania have been addressed, and we are determined to ensure that such challenges do not arise in future,” said Hon. Mulamula.
“The Government of Tanzania has earmarked regional integration as a top priority, and is set to facilitate trade by creating an enabling environment for business and investment.”
The Minister commended the EAC and EABC for their close collaboration with the private sector in the region. “I congratulate you for the effort you are putting in in enhancing a private sector led regional integration agenda,” he said.
On his part, the EAC Secretary General, Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki pledged to work closely with the private sector in the region, adding that they were the key drivers to deeper integration.
“I want to assure you that I shall do all that is within my powers to ensure that the private sector plays its rightful role in the integration process,” said Dr. Mathuki.
He noted that the private sector was the engine of regional integration and therefore, there was a need to bring to the table the challenges the sector encountered.
“It is only by addressing these issues that we shall be able to increase intra-regional trade from the current less than 15%, to at least 50% in the next five years,” he added.
The Secretary General further noted that in an effort to enhance trade and investment in the region, the EAC Secretariat had established a Private Sector Desk.
“The EAC Private Sector Desk will serve as an interface between the private sector and the Secretariat, thereby enabling the Secretariat to promptly address issues hampering regional trade,” said the SG.
The President of the TCCIA, Mr. Paul Koyi, said that for the EAC integration agenda to succeed there was need to ensure intra-regional trade is carried out in a borderless environment.
“For the private sector to flourish, there is need for an enabling environment, one which is free from trade barriers,” he said.