PUBLISHED ON August 11th, 2023

EABC, Afreximbank partner to foster intra-african trade

THE East African Business Council (EABC) together with Afreximbank entered a strategic partnership aimed at fostering Intra-African trade and regional economic integration to maximise opportunities between the country members.

According to a statement issued by EABC on Wednesday, the agreement will raise awareness among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) especially the youth and women in business about African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Protocols and its significance for business growth.

Speaking at the sensitisation workshop for the SMEs held yesterday, EABC’s Executive Director and CEO, Mr John Bosco Kalisa said Business within the EAC has been doing well despite the financial challenges attributed to the Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict such that the agreement will continue flourishing businesses.

“The East African bloc has shown economic resilience despite Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war,” said Mr Kalisa.

He stressed that the purpose of such workshops is to focus on trade facilitation procedures and strategies to access markets effectively under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

He further urged the governments of the EAC Partner States to continue improving the business environment for youths to be innovative and drive integration and prosperity in Africa.

Under the partnership, the two bodies will promote the implementation of the AfCFTA by engaging in specific activities that strengthen the private sector’s capacity, enhance trade facilitation and unlock new opportunities for businesses across East Africa.

On his part, the Assistant Commissioner, Technological Research and Innovation/MSME, Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives Uganda, Mr Okot Okeello Richard said the business between the EAC member countries has been a catalyst in fostering social-economic growth.

“The trade drives socio-economic growth, and AfCFTA will open markets for goods and services among African countries,” he said.

However, Mr Okeello stressed improvements in the AfCFTA guidelines including the need to relook at the trade costs such as logistic costs within the EAC countries to prioritise the business which he said the current system leads to delay.

“There should be a relook on the AfCFTA-guided trade to ensure the business is done within the required timeframe,” he stressed.

Additionally, for example “Kenya’s exports of batteries to Ghana under AfCFTA-guided trade initiative took three months, while the same consignment from China takes two weeks…this underscores the need for the EAC region to relook at the time and costs of logistics and prioritise trading of low-volume, high-value products,” he added.

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