East African Community (EAC) Secretariat is to consult the business community and government technocrats before signing the Common Market Protocol, a statement from the East African Business Council (EABC) says.
If signed, it is hoped, the protocol will operationalise the East African Common Market. This will ease free movement of goods and services in Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania.
The EABC which brings together the private sector to ensuring that this market-centered integration is achieved has been very instrumental at consultations before the protocol is signed.
Technocrats say the consultation may lead to identification and elimination of physical and policy related constraints, which are feared, could slow the progress in the establishment of a single market and investment area in the region.
Charles Mbogori, Executive Director EACBC is optimistic about the consultations.
“The business community in East Africa in conjunction with key government institutions have been very instrumental in the implementation of the East African Customs Union,” he said in a statement sent to The New Times.
Adding, “The lessons and experiences of the business community for the last three years constitute valuable tenets for the design of a realistic East African Common Market firmly based on the prevailing business climate and the social –economic realities of the region.”
The consultation set for May 2 in Arusha, Tanzania also comes after the Heads of State Summit held in April 2006 directed the Secretariat to commence the Common Market negotiations.
The Presidents set December 2008 as the deadline for concluding and signing the Common Market Protocol.
Economic commentators are optimistic that when the trade barriers are eliminated, the larger combined population of about 120 million people offers a more economically viable market for local products.