THE recent pledge by President Jakaya Kikwete, also Chairperson of the East African Community (EAC) that he would give due attention to elimination of Non Tariff Barriers in the region, deserves commendations as partner states strive to make the region the best place to do business.
Addressing members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) in Bujumbura, Burundi on Thursday, President Kikwete cited examples of achievements registered in trade leading to 300 per cent increase in the value of trade from 2 billion US dollars to 6 billion dollars in 2014.
The Charter establishing the East African Community (EAC) stipulates that the entry point in the integration process would be the Customs Union, followed by the Common Market, later the Monetary Union and ultimately the Political Federation.
Implementation of the Customs Union which started in 2000 involved free movement of goods produced in any of the region and a common external tariff.
Goods are supposed to move freely across the borders of member countries without tariffs being charged and not hampered by Non Tariff Barriers. Indeed, it has proven helpful in reducing encumbrances to importers and in discouraging dumping and diversion of transit goods.
Ultimately, it will be an effective tool of promoting trade and curbing revenue loss to governments. The region is looking forward for increased revenues when the Single Customs Territory becomes fully operational in the near future and the piloting exercises are progressing well in all member states.
The appeal to EAC member states on the obligation to ensure that all remaining non-tariff barriers to trade were removed in the region is equally relevant and timely as all admit that good job has been accomplished in eliminating tariff related barriers.
For example, Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) has taken bold measures to reduce checks from three to zero. Weighbridges have remained eight and the plan has been to reduce them to three. Weigh-in-motion technology has been introduced at Vigwaza, two are on their way for Manyoni and Nyakahura.
With the current improvements alone, for a container to move from the port of Dar es Salaam to Kigali takes 3 days from the previous 8 days.
It takes three and a half days to Bujumbura from the previous 8 days. Such a progress is worth emulating bearing in mind that economic strength of the region paves way for other accomplishments.
Unity is strength. We laud Mr Kikwete for making it clear that the full integration of the EAC region very much depended on the success of collective efforts and member states should know that the world we are in and that ahead of us, has no place for fragmented markets, isolated industrial value chains and inadequate cross border infrastructure. Long live EAC.
Source: Daily News
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.