Inter-regional trade grows by 49 percent

Intra-regional trade within the East African Community region has grown by 49 per cent in the last five years the Customs Union has been in force.

Intra-regional trade within the East African Community region has grown by 49 per cent in the last five years the Customs Union has been in force.

Implementation of the trade arrangement has also earned the regional bloc other tangible benefits such as increased investments from outside.

For instance, inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) almost tripled from $ 692 million in 2002 to $ 1.7billion in 2007 with Tanzania and Uganda receiving the largest proportions.

A Customs Union is a stage of regional integration where countries agree to remove all trade barriers between them.

The protocol on the establishment of EAC Customs Union was signed in March 2004 by the heads of state of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya and came into force in January the following year.

Burundi and Rwanda, which joined the regional bloc in July 2007, became members of the EAC Customs Union last July.

The main goal of the Customs Union is to liberalise and promote cross-border trade among member states of the regional bloc; Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda.

Senior officials of EAC partner states will meet here tomorrow to take stock of the Customs Union and ways to transform it into a full fledged trade arrangement.

The High Level Regional Forum, to be held as part of the EAC tenth anniversary activities, will discuss key implementation issues and the main challenges to trade facilitation in the region.

The meeting will be organised by the EAC Directorate of Customs and Trade in partnership with USAID-Compete and the Investment Climate Facility (ICF).

“It is one of several commemorative events for the EAC 10th Anniversary which will reach climax on November 20th, 2009,” said Mr Owora Richard Othieno, the senior public relations officer of the Community.

He said over 150 participants will also take stock of achievements and challenges facing the Customs Union and discuss its transformation to a fully fledged trade arrangement.

“Discussions shall focus on the framework to adopt taking into account the free movement of goods, internal customs border controls and management of customs revenue collection,” the official added.

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