The East Africa Community (EAC), comprised of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, is one of the leading regional economic organizations in sub-Saharan Africa and has made great strides in recent years toward integrating the economies of its partner states. It has established a free trade area and a customs union, and is working toward a common market.
THE U.S.-EAC COOPERATION AGREEMENT
The U.S.-EAC Cooperation Agreement on Trade Facilitation, SPS, and TBT commits both the EAC and the United States to three objectives:
IMPLEMENT THE WTO’s TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT
– The Agreement commits the parties to cooperate on customs issues, including the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, reducing red tape and unnecessary formalities at borders decreasing border release times, and implementing other positive reforms laid out in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement to help streamline and facilitate trade.
This will build on the EAC’s own work on customs reforms, which have resulted in substantial reductions in the time and costs of moving goods across borders within the EAC. For instance, container transit times from Mombasa, Kenya, to Kigali, Rwanda have declined from 21 days several years ago to six days, while associated transport costs are down by over $1,700 per container.
ENHANCING FOOD SAFETY, PLANT AND ANIMAL HEALTH
– The Agreement provides for U.S.-EAC cooperation and capacity building related to food safety and animal and plant health standards. While a majority of the region’s people are involved in agricultural production or processing, the export potential of these products is currently limited.
The Cooperation Agreement will help the EAC meet international standards by bringing U.S. technological expertise to bear and fully implement the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, which will help the EAC Partner States increase food security and create additional export opportunities for products produced in the region.
BUILD CAPACITY TO MEET GLOBAL STANDARDS
– The Agreement provides for U.S.-EAC cooperation and capacity related to technical regulations, standards, testing, and certification – for example, by helping to train East African standards officials and developing electronic systems for engaging the public and interested stakeholders on new proposed technical regulations.
This will help increase the EAC partner States’ ability to meet international quality and safety standards by improving full implement of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. Both U.S. and African international competitiveness is enhanced when countries meet international standards and avoid unnecessary differences among technical regulations and standards developed independently and separately by each nation, national standards organization, or company.
PROGRESS RESULTING FROM TRADE AFRICA INITIATIVE
– Enhanced U.S.-EAC private sector engagement under the Commercial Dialogue.
– The establishment of a new five-year, $64 million Trade and Investment Hub in East Africa focused on: i) increasing exports under AGOA to the United States, to regional partners, and to the rest of the world, ii) facilitating investment and access to the newest technologies and expertise to priority development sectors, iii) expanding and diversifying regional agricultural trade and food security, and iv) supporting the implementation of regional integration policies adopted by the EAC.
The United States has $2.8 billion in total (two way) goods trade with the Eastern African Community (EAC) during 2014. Exports totaled $2.0 billion; Imports totaled $743 million.
Total trade in goods grew by 52% in the last year and 103% in the last five. U.S. goods exports to these countries grew by 66% in the last year, and 106% between 2009 and 2014. Exports of goods from Africa to the U.S. from EAC grew by 24% in 2014 from 2013 and 93% over the last 5 years.
Source: All Africa
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.