EAC urged to fully utilise trade agreements, opportunities to grow exports

  • The East African Community (EAC) should boost its transactions under the existing regional and international trade agreements and opportunities
  • EABC Chairperson Angelina Ngalula said agreements including African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) would be beneficial 
  • Data shows that Intra-EAC trade is below 20 per cent, while intra-African exports are 18 per cent of total exports

The East African Community (EAC) should boost its transactions under the existing regional and international trade agreements and opportunities.

East African Business Council Chairperson Angelina Ngalula said the bloc could benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and the Economic partnership agreement.

Quoting statistics, Ngalula noted that intra-EAC trade is below 20 per cent, intra-African exports are 18 per cent of total exports, and EAC exports to AGOA are valued at USD 5.26 billion, while EAC exports to EU stood at USD.2.67 billion (ITC,2021).

Ngalula said that despite the agreements and opportunities, East Africans have not fully utilised these agreements as trade is still fractional due to low productive capacity, fragmentation and infrastructure challenges.

“With the AfCFTA, there are no boundaries of doing business in Africa, but the EAC bloc should be well-prepared to export competitive professional services and skills to the continent,” said Chairperson Angelina.

The Chairperson expounded that EABC will create B2B networking opportunities to boost bilateral trade ties and unlock Non-Tariff Barriers. Equity Bank has set up a USD. 7 Billion funds to support business growth and such initiatives.

On his part, John Bosco Kalisa, EABC CEO said EABC, with support from GIZ developed a Barometer on East African Trade in Services to gauge the growth of the service sector in the EAC. He expounded that the EAC region exported services worth USD 12.9 billion against USD. 933.6M worth of imports globally in 2019.

Kalisa applauded John Vianney Mongella, Arusha Regional Commissioner and Pamela Maassay, MP East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), for their partnership with the private sector to drive EAC’s socio-economic growth.

Mongella, Arusha Regional Commissioner, reiterated the deep commitment of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania under the headship of Samia Suluhu Hassan to boost investments and business growth in the EAC.

Mongella promised to allocate a plot of land to the East African Business Council in recognition of its mandate of steering growth of intra-trade, investments, jobs and economic buoyancy in the EAC.

Anup Modha, Chairman CTI-Northern Outreach, called for full implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol for trade to flourish.

The EABC Chairperson reaffirmed her commitment to making the EAC a leading global trading block and pledged to support the Youth in Business Agenda, Women, and SMEs. The YouLead Summit 2022 is planned for December, and EABC and MSTCDC are the major convening partners.

What does it mean for regional trade, investment after DRC became EAC’s 7th Member State?

The Chairperson called upon the Governments of the EAC partner Stats to create a One Stop Centre for Women in Business to access customs and trade permits.

She further said it is a great duty to take the helm of the East African Business Council and implored support from the Government and the business community to push forward the agenda of EABC.

The High-Level Business Dinner convened over 70 business captains, women and youth in business to deliberate and exchange on policy priorities to boost intra-EAC trade and investments.

In a related story, Emmanuel Nkusi, the Board Director of the East African Business Council, recently said that the commercial links of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with the other East African Community Partner States will greatly increase now that the DRC has joined the Community.

Nkusi, while delivering a speech at the Business Meeting in Goma that was organised by EABC and the Federation of Enterprises of Congo (FEC), stated that “In 2020, EAC countries imported commodities worth USD.49.2million from the DRC while exporting USD.584million to the DRC.”

The inclusion of the consumer market of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has close to 90 million people, will increase the size of the East African Community market to nearly 300 million, and it will open the bloc to the economy of the Congo, which is rich in a variety of natural resources.

US$49.2 million worth of DRC exports into EAC herald bright future

Wanjiku Njuguna is a Kenyan-based business reporter with experience of more than eight years.

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