PUBLISHED ON February 15th, 2024

Mobile App to deal with EAC trade barriers set for roll out

What you need to know:

  • The East African Community (EAC) partner states have been directed to gear up for the App’s operationalization by April 30 this year

Arusha. A new mobile App intended to fight trade barriers in East Africa will be rolled out soon.
The East African Community (EAC) partner states have been directed to gear up for the App’s operationalization by April 30 this year. The facility has been developed to ease the reporting,
monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) in the bloc.

This allows the users to report the complaints in any of the three official languages of the EAC, which are English, Swahili and French. The App can be downloaded from the Apple Store, Google’s
Play Store and other such stores. It can be accessed through, according to a statement from the EAC secretariat. The directive to roll out the App by April 30 was made at the ministerial meeting of the EAC held in Arusha last Friday. The App was developed with the support of Trademark Africa and finalised and piloted during the National Monitoring
Committee (NMC) meetings last year. The App was officially launched in December last year in Bujumbura by the EAC secretariat but is awaiting formal operationalization. According to the EAC secretariat, operationalization of the App in April 30 will be preceded by sensitization and capacity building for relevant public and private sector officials and other stakeholders. NTBs have been a major hindrance to the free movement of goods as enshrined in the EAC Customs and Common Market Protocols.  Ordinarily, barriers refer to any obstacles to international trade that are not import or export duties. NTBs may take the form of import quotas, subsidies, customs delays, technical barriers, or other systems preventing or impeding trade.

On the status of resolution of NTBs for the period July— November 2023, the ministers were informed that nine NTBs remain outstanding while two were resolved. Cumulatively, 269 N TBs have been resolved since 2007, and the ministerial meeting was informed. The meeting directed Uganda and Kenya to hold a bilateral meeting to resolve NTB 000-864 on discriminatory excise duty
on juice by June 30 this year. On the other hand, Tanzania and Kenya were directed to undertake a joint verification on motorcycle accessories transferred from Kenya to Tanzania by June 30.
The ministers directed the EAC secretariat to prioritise the harmonisation of calibration services for road tankers in the region in the financial year 2024/2025.

Speaking at the meeting, the chairperson of the EAC sectoral committee on trade and related sectors, William Anyuon Kuol Wol, observed that efforts to reduce NTBs within the EAC have
been commendable. “However, to sustain this progress, it was imperative for all stakeholders, including the private sector, to play a pivotal role in holding the EAC accountable and in devising effective mechanisms to address and monitor the reduction of NTBs,” he pointed out. Mr Wol, a South Sudan minister, further highlighted the progress in implementing the Single Customs Territory and the impact of One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) on reducing transit costs as notable achievements. However, he stressed that it was vital to engage in outreach programmes “that educate East Africans about the integration rocess and its relevance in their lives.”

On his part, the EAC secretary general, Peter Mathuki, said that there has been a consistent upward trend in intra-trade values in recent years.

For instance, in the 2021/22 financial year, intra-trade reached $8.7 billion, followed by a further increase to $9.4 billion in the financial year 2022/23. “This demonstrated a robust trading environment among EAC partner states, with a notable growth of approximately 7.98 percent,” he said. Dr Mathuki urged the ministers to address issues relating to the denial of preferential market access for EAC-originating goods.

Other issues that should be addressed are the non-ratification of key EAC instruments and the finalisation of EAC Tariff Offers for categories B and C to give impetus to intra-African
trade. The EAC bloc, he added, was still grappling with cross-border challenges affecting the free movement of goods and persons and the resolution of existing NTBs.

Read original article

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.