The East African Business Council has asked member states of the East African Community to adopt the regulatory framework for Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs), as stipulated in the region’s Common Market Protocol, in order to facilitate easy movement of professionals in the region.
Nicholas Nesbitt, the Council Chairman, said although the six member states signed the protocol, the movement of labour, especially in specialised fields, has not been smooth because of the failure by member states to implement MRAs.
MRA is an international pact by which two or more countries agree to recognise one another’s conformity assessments.
The objective for signing an MRA is to enable professionals in one country to be recognised in all regional states, thereby easing free movement of specialised services across the region thus facilitating free movement of professionals across the EAC.
Currently, professionals, including veterinary doctors, accountants, architects, and engineers, among others cannot freely export their services in the region.
According to Nesbitt, the challenge is that some partners have not liberalised some services sectors under the MRAs while others lack regulatory authorities to facilitate implementation of the MRAs.
To overcome such challenges, the East African Business Council wants the EAC member states to finalise the signing of all pending MRAs alongside liberalising of professional services where MRAs have been negotiated among the member states.
Furthermore, to ease the movement of professional skills in the region, the business community in the region also challenges the EAC states to establish regional internship programmes to encourage mobility of young professionals; and also setting up regional and inter-professional platforms to be established for implementation of MRAs.
On facilitating cross boarder business, the chairman applauded the member states for the implementation of the single customs territory which he said has reduced the cost of doing business among the member states.
“The benefits of the Single Customs Territory are already being witnessed by both the public and the private sectors in the region.
“With the Single Customs Territory, regional customer-centric procedures have been put in place, eliminating duplications and reducing the cost of doing business,” Nesbitt explained.