The Chief Executive Officer of the Investment Climate Facility (ICF), Omari Issa, has called for speedy procedures to enable vibrant trade along East Africa’s critical transport corridors.
Issa was speaking at the opening of a regional high level forum on customs reform and implementation of a fully fledged customs union held in Arusha, Tanzania, over the weekend.
The forum was convened to discuss the implementation of key issues of the Customs Union and challenges to trade facilitation in the region.
The ICF official challenged the region to simplify transit procedures in order to halve average transit times for businesses along the Northern and Central Corridors by the end of 2010.
On his part, the EAC Secretary General, Juma Mwapachu, said the community must seek to reap the benefits of economies of scale and scope in promoting deeper integration.
“The area of investments, both domestic, in its regional sense, and global, is one that we must seek to promote together without in any way becoming circumspect about the individual national comparative and competitive advantages,” Mwapachu said.
The EAC Customs Union (ECU) was officially launched in Rwanda last July, an occasion described by Prime Minister, Bernard Makuza, as a landmark achievement for the region.
During the Arusha forum, participants took stock of achievements and challenges of the Customs Union in its five years of implementation and held wide-ranging discussions on the transformation to a fully fledged Customs Union.
Over 150 senior executives of government and private sector agencies involved in the implementation of the Customs Union from within the EAC region were in attendance.
The Protocol on the establishment of the EAC Customs Union came into force on the 1st of January, 2005, in the three founding Partner States of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.