The NTBs pose a major problem for traders and producers, as they can reduce profits and limit market access. NTBs include issues that can hinder trading effectively such as discriminatory requirements for special licenses and permits, excessive paperwork, complicated customs procedures, and bureaucratic delays at borders
The East African Community Secretariat has said it still has unresolved complaints of the Non-Tariff Barriers standing at 43.75 percent by June 2023, which still affects the follow-up trade in the regional bloc.
The NTBs pose a major problem for traders and producers, as they can reduce profits and limit market access. NTBs include issues that can hinder trading effectively such as discriminatory requirements for special licenses and permits, excessive paperwork, complicated customs procedures, and bureaucratic delays at borders.
“A significant number of NTB complaints were addressed (56.25%) and resolved within the given timeframe. However, a notable portion of complaints, specifically (43.75%) were still in progress by the end of June 2023,” EAC said in a press statement it issued over the weekend.
The EAC secretariat said a recent EAC Regional Meeting Committee (RMC) report (2023) estimated the direct costs of NTBs at $16.7 million and total trade impact at $94.9 million decreasing trade by an average of 58 percent.
However, on the other hand in the press statement, EAC said since 2017, EAC has resolved 89.5% of the reported NTBs (EAC Time Bound Programme report, 2023).
“In addition, there has been a relatively steady decrease in reported NTBs. In recent years, from 2021 to 2023, the number of reported NTBs complaints has remained stable, ranging between 8 and 11 cases annually with a significant improvement in the resolution of NTBs reported to an average of 88.3 days. Between June 2022 and June 2023, a total of 16 NTB complaints were reported within EAC. Out of these, 9 NTBs have been resolved while 7 complaints remained in progress,” the EAC said.
In what it termed as a groundbreaking development for regional trade, the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat over the weekend in Bujumbura, Burundi unveiled a new mobile application (App), which was funded by the Netherlands through TradeMark Africa (TMA).
The EAC NTBs App allows the users to report the complaints in one of the three (3) EAC official languages; English, Swahili, and French, and can be downloaded from the Apple Store, Google’s Play Store, and other Android devices.
The EAC NTBs App, seamlessly blending SMS, email, and phone reporting methods, offers economic operators a one-stop solution for effectively reporting Non-Tariff Barriers to trade. By streamlining the NTB reporting process, the App will aid traders and producers in tackling obstacles that impede their trade efficiency and competitiveness among others.
Speaking during the launch of the App, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Customs, Trade and Monetary Affairs, Ms Annette Ssemuwemba said the EAC NTBs App marks a pivotal moment in creating a smooth trading environment across the EAC region.
“We are dedicated to eradicating the barriers that impede economic growth, and integration. This innovative solution serves as a powerful tool to empower traders, producers, and economic operators offering them a unified platform to promptly address and resolve NTBs,” she added.
“Empowering the private sector to report NTBs encountered and enabling them to track the progress of the NTB through the App is key to enhancing the business environment in the region, we hope that this will be the turning point in effectively identifying and swiftly resolving NTBs in the region,” Ms Ssemuwemba.
On their part, Director, of Trade Policy, and Trade Facilitation, Mr Benedict Musengele said: “At TradeMark Africa, we believe in fostering a vibrant and conducive trade environment that propels economic growth and regional integration. This revolutionary app is a testament to our commitment to providing strategic solutions in digital trade.”
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.