The regional business lobby group East African Business Council (EABC) is working with the TradeMark (Trade and Markets) East Africa (TMEA) to evaluate if if EAC agreements and practices ease doing business across borders.
The two bodies have kick started Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) with Trade Facilitation Agencies at the One-Stop Borders across the EAC Partner States to determine this.
According to a statement from EABC, the PPDs focus is on the extent to which Partner States are translating the EAC Common Market and Customs Union Protocols into policies that support the actualization of free movement of goods and people.
The first EABC Public-Private Dialogue with Trade Facilitation Agencies at Namanga One-Stop Border Post on 12th March 2019, brought together officials from Ministries of EAC Affairs, Immigration, bureaus of standards, plant and animal health, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS), Revenue Authority, Police, cross border traders, transporters, exporters, importers, business leaders and women in business under one roof. It was an opportunity for open dialogue to ensure policies work for businesses at the ground level.
According to the CEO EABC Peter Mathuki following EABC’s successful advocacy, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards, effective 12th September 2019, eliminated a long-outstanding standards related NTB on importation of Smirnoff Ice Black from Kenya which had been denied entry into Tanzania since March 2019.
Other achievements from the PPD is that the Heads of Namanga OSBP from Kenya and Tanzania side jointly agreed to hold a good-will neighborhood meeting to come up with a framework to facilitate small traders living in Namanga to access neighboring markets of Bisil/Longido which are beyond gazetted area distances.
In his remarks during the PPD at Namanga OSBP, Mr Mathuki said: “This Public-Private Dialogue is an opportunity for the private sector to share successes, challenges, and concerns to intra–EAC trade, which can be resolved by the trade facilitation agencies at Namanga OSBP”
He noted the intra EAC trade is low at below 15 per cent compared with other RECs viz a vis SADC at 48 per cent EU at 70 per cent.
He emphasized that EABC will raise recommendations to the EAC Heads of State and respective Ministries to quickly solving trade barriers and spur intra-EAC trade and investments.
The Namanga OSBP channels 90 per cent of trade between Kenya and Tanzania. In her remarks, Mrs Mary Ngechu, EABC Board Director, said in 2018, Kenya imported Tanzanian products valued at USD.175 million while exported $293 million.
Mr Amedeus Mzee from the Ministry of EAC Affairs Tanzania said the smooth flow of goods across borders is paramount to improving the production capacity and competitiveness of EAC industries and job creation.
Mr Wakhungu Juma from Ministry of EAC Affairs Kenya emphasized that increased trade in Kenya and Tanzania is beneficial to the economic development of the EAC.
Residence Permit fees for East Africans
Ms Mary Palmer, Commissioner Permits, and Pass Tanzania Immigration said Tanzania has reduced residence permit fees for East Africans however issuance of temporary passports products valued not been rolled out at entry points such as Namanga OSBP.
Mr Kake Dhariwal, EABC Former Board Director said USD250 charge for trucks for every entry at Namanga OSBP is high and recommended for 24-hour operations to facilitate large cargo clearance at the OSBP.
The Chair of the women cross-border association noted that women traders are not allowed to trade inside the Namanga OSPB, Tanzanian side and requested for an allocated area for bead traders within the perimeters of the OSBP.
Mr Allan Ngugi, Director, Business Environment TMEA re-affirmed TMEA’s commitment to supporting sustainable trade and urged for continuous engagement between public and private sector in a bid to facilitate trade and investments into the region and positively impact livelihoods.
Among other obstacles to Tanzania –Kenya trade include: numerous police checks for transit vehicles, short life span validity of temporary passports and issuance of temporary passports unavailable Namanga OSBP, lack of weighbridge at Namanga OSBP,language barriers, issuance of business passes to drivers instead of temporary passes and poor awareness of the EAC Simplified Trade Regime by small scale traders.
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