anzania has become the latest East African country to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA). Burundi ratified the AfCFTA on 17th June 2021 while Tanzania did this on 9th September 2021.
Dr. Peter Mathuki, the EAC Secretary General has disclosed that the community has initiated a number of steps towards the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement, adding that the ratification by Burundi and Tanzania would expedite the implementation of the agreement.
Other EAC Partner States that have ratified the agreement are Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. The Republic of South Sudan has signed the AfCFTA but is yet to ratify it.
Dr. Mathuki said that the bloc had almost finalized the submission of its tariff offers, which conform to the agreed modalities in addition to the schedules of liberalization of trade in services.
“We have also prepared a draft strategy for the implementation of the Agreement, which takes into account the need for capacity building. It is presently under consideration by the Partner States,” said Dr. Mathuki.
“Further, we are also fully involved in negotiations on the outstanding areas such as Rules of Origin, Trade in services as well as the phase II issues on investment, competition, intellectual property rights and e-commerce,” he added.
The Secretary General said that it was the expectation of the EAC that the AfCFTA would result in, among other things, lowering of business costs, promote local content and provide a platform for settlement of disputes.
Dr. Mathuki said that EAC would leverage on its existing trade environment to reap maximum benefit from the AfCFTA, namely the: regional customs and trade instruments; interconnectivity of systems including customs and other border clearance agencies; One Stop Border Posts; national Trade Information Portals; simplified trade regimes; trade exhibitions and symposia, and expansion of the EAC especially the anticipated admission of DRC into the Community.
The Secretary General said that the EAC was currently operationalizing a framework for trade development through the digitalization of markets, information dissemination, and showcasing the region’s products and market opportunities.