- Kenya and Uganda need to engage in bilateral negotiations to eradicate all outstanding Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).
- EAC products have been denied preferential market access as a result of trade sanctions.
- Intra-EAC trade is currently at a low of 15 per cent.
The East African Business Council (EABC) is urging Kenya and Uganda to engage in bilateral negotiations to eradicate all outstanding Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).
It is hoped that a bilateral conversation will avoid a trade standoff and retribution from the implementation of NTB by Kenya and Uganda in accordance with the Treaty for the formation of the East African Community (EABC) spirit.
Instead of using retribution as the final solution, EABC believes that the two sisterly nations should sit down together and work out all of their differences peacefully.
Read: Non-tarrif barriers still a thorn in EAC’s flesh
Because EAC products have been denied preferential market access as a result of trade sanctions, intra-EAC trade is currently at a low of 15 per cent, which will worsen employment opportunities, market access, and the economies of scale of our sectors for East Africans as a whole.
NTBs not only increase the time and cost of doing business across borders but also reduce the competitiveness of EAC-produced goods.
NTBs persist and grow because of the lack of an effective EAC trade dispute settlement system (the EAC Trade Remedies Committee) and the poor speed of resolution of NTBs by the EAC Reginal Monitoring Committee (EMC). EABC has recognized these two concerns as important to addressing NTBs: (RMC). In November 2021, only two National Trade Barriers (NTBs) were resolved by the Sectoral Council of Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI), while 12 were still unresolved.
On behalf of the East African business community, the East African Business Council (EABC) urges:
- All EAC Partner States to eliminate all sorts of barriers imposed on goods and services produced from within the EAC bloc.
This is because NTBs hinder the free movement of goods as enshrined in the EAC Customs Union and Common Market Protocols at the detriment of East African manufacturers and traders – importers & exporters from both countries.
- EAC Partner States to ratify Article 24 (2) of the EAC Customs Union Protocol to pave way for the operationalization of the EAC Trade Remedies Committee.
Article 24 of the EAC Customs Union Protocol provides for the establishment of the EAC Trade Remedies Committee tasked to handle matters of Rules of Origin, antidumping measures, subsidies and countervailing measures, safeguard measures and Dispute Settlement Mechanism.
Read: Uganda-Rwanda tiff scares Bamburi cement as profits drop
The non-existence of the Committee on Trade Remedies makes it impossible for the EAC Council of Ministers to refer matters on the elimination of NTBs to the Committee as is provided for in the EAC Non- Tariff Barriers Act, 2017 (Article 12 (2), (3) and (4).
- The EABC cautions on retaliation by imposing NTBs as it set back the progress and gains made in terms of Intra-EAC trade; Elimination of current trade barriers and reduces investors’ confidence and predictability of the business environment in the EAC bloc.
- The EABC urges for the quick convening of the bilateral public-private dialogue between Kenya and Uganda to find win-win lasting solutions on the elimination of NTBs to boost trade, economic growth and jobs for the prosperity of all East African citizens.
When the Ugandan Cabinet agreed to this nearly two-year proposal on December 13, President Yoweri Museveni was adamantly opposed.
Minister for East African Affairs Rebecca Kadaga said that the Cabinet has ordered her country’s Agriculture ministry to list all the Kenyan items that will be banned by Uganda’s government within a “short period.”
She added that they had waited for far too long without Kenya reciprocating, Kadaga told journalists on Tuesday morning.
Trade disputes between Kenya and Uganda have been ongoing for a long time.
Read: Is oil wealth pitting Kenya against Somalia?