ARUSHA – The implementation of the East African Customs union will lead to growth of investments and trade in Rwanda, a senior East African Community official (EAC) has said.
In an exclusive interview with Peter Kiguta, the Director General of Customs and Trade at the EAC Secretariat said Rwandans will now have access to a larger market and more revenue collections.
“It will now be easier for a Rwandan to sell his agricultural products across a border of a particular country without travelling to his country’s capital city to access the market there,” Kiguta said
The EAC customs union was simultaneously launched last month in Rwanda and Burundi making it a turning point for the full integration of the partner states into the EAC.
“East Africans will be having an opportunity of accessing markets which they would not have reached before for fear of paying duties. It’s a win-win situation,” he added
He added that this development will also lead to growth of trade in the region as some goods that used not to be traded among partner states will now have their way to larger markets.
Kiguta said that by having common trade policies, the private sector in Rwanda and other partner states will grow because of a one single market and one customs territory.
“When East Africa is negotiating with other countries, we do it as one bloc. By doing this it becomes easy to get a better deal with outside countries,” he said.
The EAC official downplayed fears that revenues in partner states would be lost because of harmonization of customs policies, adding that revenues will be boasted through indirect taxes like Value Added Tax (VAT).
“The experience in the founding partner states of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania can tell it all. Revenues and trade has grown largely over the last five years,” he said.
He said that by implementing the common external tariff, the tariff regime of Rwanda will be rationalised along with the other EAC partner states which will enhance business predictability and planning.
The common tariff regime enhances compliance because it eliminates price differentials arising out of differing tariff rates.
The main objective of the EAC customs union is to promote intra EAC trade, enhance production and industrialisation, and promote investment in the region.