Nairobi, February 17, 2015. The private sector has welcomed gains on regional integration with regards to trade and economic opportunities in the East Africa Region. A meeting between captains of the private sector in Kenya and the Secretary General (SG) of the East African Community (EAC), Dr Richard Sezibera, identified key challenges that businesses encounter, that hinder them from realising the full economic and trade potential of the region.
The SG Regional CEOs’ Forum (SG CEO Forum) which was held under the auspices of the East Africa Business Council (EABC) and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) is a unique platform bringing together CEOs of regional businesses within the EAC. The main objective is to provide a platform for regular dialogue with the business community on how to improve the EAC integration process for business and trade with the aim of prioritising identified issues and developing time-bound action plans.
Addressing members present, chair of KEPSA Vimal Shah said;
“There are great opportunities that abound with regional integration. An integrated market of 140 million citizens provides opportunities for the private sector. Challenges though exist on free circulation of goods and services hampered by a lack of recognition of EAC rules of origin (ROO), lack of harmonisation of standards and restrictions on labour mobility. If governments can address these challenges then we can expect competitiveness from the private sector which means better quality and lower cost of goods and services for our citizens”
TradeMark Africa Kenya Country Director, Dr. Chris Kiptoo added:
“We also seek consultations with key business leaders as we strive to ensure that the TMA programme is well positioned to support initiatives that address private sector needs in the EAC region such as: infrastructural systems; harmonisation of tax regimes; harmonisation of product standards; removal of NTBs; aspects of the common market protocol like movement of factors of production; and enhancing the capacity of SMEs in the region”.
Making his key statement, the EAC Secretary General, Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera highlighted:
“Governments are listening to the voice of the private sector. The EAC Heads of State Summit in November 2015 will focus on the private sector. This shows commitment to improve the trade environment in the region. Manufacturing is an important sector for any developing country and currently only 10% of GDP is contributed by this important sector. Our vision is to see this increase to 25%”.
The principle secretary in the ministry of East African Affairs, PS John Konchellah added:
“Regional integration opens up opportunities for trade ensuring citizens enjoy lower costs and quality services fostered by healthy competition. The government of Kenya is working collaboratively with the private sector in addressing challenges identified in these forums with a view of improving the business climate”
Source: TradeMark Africa
TradeMark Africa (TMA) is an aid-for-trade organisation that was established with the aim of growing prosperity in East Africa through increased trade. TradeMark Africa (TMA) operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by the development agencies of the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, UK, and USA. TradeMark Africa (TMA) works closely with East African Community (EAC) institutions, national governments, the private sector and civil society organisations.
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.