East Africa is at an advanced stage in implementing trade modalities under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), making it among the first blocs to embrace the continental deal.
Led by the East African Business Council (EABC), with support from the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) in EAC, the region is in the progress of developing the EAC Tariff Offer under AfCFTA for sensitive products and the exclusion list.
According to AfCFTA modalities for the submission of tariff offers, the sensitive goods under category B require seven per cent of the tariff lines to be liberalised over a period of 13 years for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and 10 years for developing countries.
For the EAC, the required tariff lines under this category are 398.
The excluded goods, which are under category C, cover three per cent of the total tariff lines and must meet the anti-concentration clause; that is, not more than 10 per cent of intra-African imports should be excluded from preferential terms.
For the EAC, the required tariff lines are 171. The exclusion list will be reviewed after five years from the commencement of trading.
So far, the EAC Partner States have agreed on 308 tariff lines under category B; hence they are remaining with 90 tariff lines that have not been agreed upon.
Under category C, the EAC Partner States have agreed on 75 tariff lines. Ninety six tariff lines are yet to be agreed upon.
EABC and GIZ are leading a private sector consultative meeting in Kampala to address the tariffs implementation, with the main objective being formulating ways to assist EAC Partner States as a bloc, to converge to the required thresholds.
The consultative meeting convened over 45 technical officials from the private sector across seven EAC partner states.
“The EAC, as a region, should move faster in taking opportunities presented by the liberalisation of trade under AfCFTA,” EABC vice chairperson Simon Kaheru said in a statement yesterday.
He appealed to EAC private sector stakeholders to put aside national interests and focus on regional interests, so that they can come up with regional harmonised proposals to resolve outstanding tariff lines.
According to trade and policy advisor at EABC, Adrian Njau, the outstanding tariff lines are few, at 192 product tariff lines, but are of significant importance in terms of food security, regional value chain, livelihood of East Africans, and industrialisation.
“The EAC private sector should keep in mind that AfCFTA is liberalising EAC trade with the rest of African countries who are not members of COMESA or SADC and not with the rest of the world,” he added.
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