PUBLISHED ON March 2nd, 2015

Fate of NTBs Bill lies in the hands of ministers

The East African Community Council of Ministers has initiated the process of fast-tracking the Non-Tariff Barriers Bill into law.

This is expected to compel partner states to eliminate the numerous NTBs that hinder smooth movement of goods and services within the economic bloc.

The EAC Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers Bill, 2015 was passed by the East African Legislative Assembly in January to enable partner states to completely remove NTBs to allow free movement of goods, people and labour as a requirement by Common Market Protocol.

Non-tariff barriers have been cited as the biggest threats to doing business in East Africa.

While the five EAC partner states have agreed in principle to remove non-tariff barriers by December this year, this largely depends on good faith on the part of the five countries due to the absence of a legal framework.

A report on the status of NTBs released last year indicates that last year, the economic bloc eliminated 66 per cent of the non-tariff barriers, enhancing trade.

The report, which was released by the EAC Secretariat, showed that 18 NTBs remained unresolved while four new ones were introduced by the partner states. However, 78 NTBs were reportedly resolved cumulatively by the member states.

Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda were reported to have imposed the highest number of NTBs during the period under review while Burundi had the least, with Rwanda imposing none.

The new and the unresolved NTBs are mostly restrictions imposed on Customs and administrative entry procedures, technical barriers to trade and road tolls.

Progress in the elimination of the NTBs according to the report, is attributable to reduction or removal of weighbridges and roadblocks on both the Northern and Central Corridors, reduced documentation procedures and processes at the ports of entry through one-stop-border points, introduction of the Single Customs Territory and the single electronic window at the ports.

Source: The East African

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