Civil society organisations in Rwanda have formed a coalition to jointly advocate for free cross border trade by eliminating non-tariff barriers along the region’s main trade routes.
The campaign, launched in Kigali on Friday, will also involve setting up national coalition committees in East African Community partner states.
The campaign is an initiative of Microjusice4all, an organisation facilitating cross border trade.
The East African Civil Society Forum (EACSOF) will champion effors to advocate for policies which can decisively address the challenges posed by non-tariff barriers.
The national coordinator of EACSOF, Fulgence Sebahizi, said there is need for a robust campaign to tackle the problem of non-tariff barriers among the five EAC member countries.
“This coalition will work closely with regional civil society organisations to find a cohesive solution,” he said.
A new Common Market scorecard, launched last week, shows that NTBs are still a challenge. Out of 51 reported NTBs, 35 per cent are in Tanzania, 31 per cent in Kenya and 18 per cent in Uganda. Rwanda has 10 per cent, while Burundi has 6 per cent.
The most affected products are manufactured goods, and foodstuffs like rice, tea,dairy products and alcoholic beverages.
Sebahizi said free trade is critical to regional economic development.
Vincent Safari, the national monitoring committees’ coordinator, said the coalition lays a strong foundation for a wider campaign against NTBs.
“We shall not work in isolation, but we will involve other stakeholders on how best to address the problem of NTBs,” he said.