President Paul Kagame yesterday hosted members of the East African Business Council (EABC) at Village Urugwiro.
The Council is the umbrella organisation of private sector operators in the region.
President Kagame is also the Chairperson of the East African Community.
During the meeting, representatives of the business community in the region outlined the challenges that still hold back trade and integration.
Nicholas Nesbitt, the Chairperson of EABC said among the issues that dominated the discussions were non-tariff barriers as well as the high cost of transporting cargo by air.
“We spoke in detail about non-tariff barriers across the region that have been hindering the free movement of people and goods making it difficult for our people to trade,” he said. “To address some of these challenges requires enforcing already agreed upon policies, while others require intervention by leaders from the region.”
The business community invited the President to a business summit to be held on the sidelines of the Heads of State Summit scheduled for November this year in Tanzania.
The business summit which will convene over 300 regional corporations will among other things seek to advance regional integration.
Robert Bapfakulera, the Chairperson of the Private Sector Federation said that the meeting also provided a chance for the business community to raise challenges such as poor infrastructure which is increasing the cost of trade.
Peter Mathuki, the Executive Director of the EABC said that with the help of President Kagame and other regional leaders, they are seeking to raise intra-regional trade levels from the current 12 per cent to about 30 per cent.
Mathuki said that the business community is also keen to see DR Congo admitted to their grouping, a move that would increase business opportunities in the region.