PUBLISHED ON July 24th, 2014


Source: Shanghai Daily

World Trade Organization (WTO) on Tuesday pledged to support efforts by the East Africa Community (EAC) to accelerate integration process.

Speaking in Nairobi during a meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, WTO Director General Robert Azevedo said Kenyatta, also the EAC chairman, has effectively used trade to unite people and advocate peace and stability in the region.

Azevedo, on his first Africa trip, commended President Kenyatta’ s efforts in mobilizing East Africa leaders and citizens towards integration.

East Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, though trade continues to be hampered by tariff as well as non- tariff barriers, including over-stretched ports and time consuming customs and border operations.

Experts have however noted that to ensure sustainable business, there was need to put more concerted efforts towards harmonization and mutual recognition of technical standards so as to allow ease of access to the other regional markets.

Azevedo praised Kenyatta for quicker movement of goods and people within the EAC region, noting that his organization is ready to facilitate activities of the region.

He said his organization is in the process of setting up programmes to help member countries in capacity building in the integration process.

Speaking during the meeting, Kenyatta said his wish as EAC chairman is to make the region a shining example to the rest of Africa.

He said the EAC integration process is aimed at making it easier for the movement of people and goods which will in turn increase trade and thus improve the lives of the people.

The president said the benefits of integration far outweigh all fears, adding that trade is an important tool in enhancing peace and stability in Africa.

He said trade will help create job opportunities, adding that he is willing to partner with WTO to increase trade in the region and throughout Africa.

He also cited trade cooperation between countries as one way of achieving political stability. “Trade can be used as an instrument of peace in Africa,” the President said, noting that time has come for Africa to move away from a continent that deals with natural resources to value addition to its products.

“This is the time for Africa. We won’t confine ourselves to agricultural activities but also industrial and commodity exports,” he said.

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