East Africa: The hub for African trade

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For years, the East African Community (EAC) struggled with divisions among member states mainly on key trade agreements slowing down the region from achieving a full working common market. Countries have been playing protectionism targeted mainly at protecting local industries, with fallouts witnessed among states. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have had their fair share of the trade wars with both tariff and non-tariff barriers affecting regional integration. Poor infrastructure in some parts of the region has also been affecting easy movement of trade volumes while businesses have suffered lack of enough capital to do trade. However, recent developments have set the region for growth both on intra-EAC trade, continental trade and of course international trade. Over the course of 2022, there has been progress on the East African Community’s Common External Tariffs (CETs) which had dragged since 2016.This exposed the region to cheaper imports mainly from China and India, making local industries uncompetitive in international markets. Trade experts say, as intra-EAC trade remains at a low of13 per cent, in comparison to common markets such as the EU which is at 67 per cent. The CET is imposed on products imported from non-member countries, aimed at safeguarding local products and

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Martin Mwita is a business reporter based in Kenya. He covers equities, capital markets, trade and the East African Cooperation markets.

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