EAST African Business Council (EABC) has gone a notch higher in resolving challenges facing the regional economies, with the launch of the regional programme on Public-Private Sector Dialogue (PPD) for Trade and Investment.
Jointly launched by the EABC and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), the project that spans from 2019 to 2023 aims at enhancing advocacy and dialogue on transport and logistics, trade facilitation, customs and tax, standards and Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) at regional and country levels.
The five-year programme is said to extend beyond the EAC and incorporates the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) and Africa Continental Free Trade Area (Af- CFTA).
“The Council is keen to enhance dialogue and partnership between the private and public sector, hence EABC will spearhead the programme in close collaboration with all national and regional sectoral private sector associations in EAC,” EABC Chief Executive Officer Peter Mathuki said.
He noted that for businesses in the region to grow and expand within and beyond the EAC, there is need for technical and financial support to EABC to advocate and input substantive issues affecting the business community in regard to policy formulation and implementation.
The Public-Private Dialogue can facilitate trade and investment climate reforms by promoting better diagnosis of investment climate problems, transparency and inclusive design of policy reforms, making policies easier to implement,” he disclosed.
According to Mathuki, barriers to trading across borders like multiple product standard inspections and bureaucratic trade procedures, delay business transactions and increase the cost of doing business.
“EABC will evaluate and monitor EAC policies to ensure they work for businesses at the ground level and create momentum for accelerating the policy reforms related to business and investment climate in the EAC, said Mathuki.
Acting Director in charge of the Private Sector at TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Allan Ngugi said the partnership aims at galvanising and facilitating tradeand investments in the bloc.
The partnership comes at a time when the EAC integration process is marking 20 years in November 2019 since the treaty signing.
Article 7 of the Treaty for Establishment of the EAC puts emphasis on people-centered and market-driven cooperation as the principle to govern practical achievements of the objectives of EAC integration process.
It further emphasizes on Article 128 that strengthening of the private sector is the key partner in the EAC integration.
Among other things, the programme seeks to contribute to the reduction of transport— road, rail and air— cost and time along transport corridors by 10 per cent and increase the efficiency of logistic services.
Furthermore, it will increase the export capacity of East African businesses and enhance customs and efficiency of other trade-related agencies by reducing time to process trade documents.
According to the World Trade Organisation, turnaround time between the port of Dar es Salaam and Kigali has been reduced from over 20 days to six.
An Ease of Doing Business report released by World Bank this year ranks the EAC at 149th out of 190 in the ease of trading across borders.