The East African Business Council has re-elected Mr Nicholas Nesbitt as Chairman, during the 20th EABC Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Nairobi, Kenya.
The AGM also elected Amb. Denis Karera, Mr.Jim Kabeho and Eng. Salum Shamte as Vice-Chairs and Members of the EABC Executive Committee who will strategically guide EABC’s mission to promote sustainable Private Sector driven growth.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of EAC Affairs and Regional Development Hon. Adan Mohamed said that EABC should take lead in reviewing the EAC Common External Tariff (CET) and come up with a CET structure that is beneficial to the East African private sector and make the region more competitive.
“African’s unity, future strength and power lie in the larger market. Public-private dialogue is important to fast track targeted policy reforms to improve the business environment and reposition the EAC bloc to seize benefits availed by the AfCFTA.” He said.
In his remarks Mr Nick Nesbitt, urged the EAC Governments to enhance public-private dialogue and formulate policies that will solve logistical challenges, fix fragmented value chains, and enhance value addition of products in the region to be competitive in light of the AfCFTA.
Speaking at the opening ceremony Eng. Stephen Mlote EAC Deputy Secretary-General, Planning, Infrastructure, Finance and Administration highlighted that EABC-EAC Technical Committee has been successfully formed.
The committee prioritizes and addresses trade and investment issues in a bid to improve the EAC business environment in line with the Treaty aspirations and the 5th EAC Development Strategy. Ms. Waturi Matu, Senior Director, Business Competitiveness TradeMark East Africa that the private sector in the region should anticipate challenges to trade, become more results-driven by taking a proactive role to increase exports within and outside the region.”
The Annual General meetings reviewed the achievements and milestones of the year 2018/19. In his remarks, Hon Peter Mathuki, EABC CEO said
“EABC continues to be the only voice of the private sector at the regional level and plays that critical role of advocating for a conducive business environment in the region” He further said “EABC is awake to the fact that the intra-EAC trade is below 20 per cent vis a vis other RECs such as SADC at 40per cent and EU at 68per cent, therefore, there is need to strengthen public-private dialogue that will spur the regional intra trade to above 30per cent in the next two years.” said Mr Mathuki.
NTBs remain a challenge to EAC
He explained that NTBs remains a challenge to the business community and called upon the EAC Partner States to work closely with the private sector towards a NTB free region.
In his report to the Annual General Meeting, the Mr. Nesbitt EABC Chairman highlighted EABC’s achievements as: Set-Up of Sector-Specific Desks on Trade in Services, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Energy and Infrastructure and SMEs to support members, establishment of EABC-EAC Technical Working Group, EABC’s Offer to host the Africa Business Council Secretariat in Arusha, Tanzania was noted and recorded in the deliberation of the AfCFTA Business Forum and Summit in Niamey, Niger.
Some of the key milestones that EABC has achieved is seeing EAC Partner States adopt EABC’s Proposal on 10 per cent import duty on sugar for industrial use (HS Code 1701.99.10) in 2018/19; during the 2018/19 and 2019/20 Budget. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania also adopted EABC proposals to increase import duties on over 50 tariff lines under iron and steel products. Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) was mandated to take charge of Assuring the Quality and Safety of Food and Cosmetics Products and Salt Manufactured in Kenya Accorded Community Preferential Tariff Treatment by Uganda, among others.