The East African Business Council (EABC) and Innovation Norway have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) committing to work together on various priority areas on trade.
The MoU was signed, yesterday, by Innovation Norway’s chief executive Anita Krohn Traaseth and EABC chair Denis Karera, in a ceremony witnessed by the Norwegian Minister for Trade and Industry, Monica Maeland, and the Secretary General of the East African Community, Richard Sezibera, at the EAC headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Innovation Norway is the Norwegian government’s instrument for innovation and development of Norwegian enterprises and industry. The agency supports companies in developing their competitive advantage and to enhance innovation.
Under the five-year deal, EABC and Innovation Norway will work together on trade facilitation; joint activities that are beneficial to both institutions, including conferences, trade missions; and business to business engagement both in EAC, and Norway and other Nordic countries.
According to a statement, some of the main areas of cooperation will be in the petroleum and education sectors with the latter focusing on the information and communication technology sector.
The two parties further agreed to increase market access through information sharing; promote investment in both regions, as well as capacity building and technical assistance.
Earlier on, Norwegian minister Maeland, and Sezibera held bilateral talks on possible areas of cooperation between Norway and the EAC.
The talks focused on the upcoming negotiations between the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) and the EAC.
Sezibera informed Maeland that the EAC Council of Ministers was quite positive about the negotiations with EFTA.
EFTA is an inter-governmental organisation which comprises Ireland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Founded in 1960, it promotes free trade and economic integration among its Member States.
EFTA member states have expressed interest in strengthening ties with EAC partner states and have proposed a joint declaration on cooperation between the two parties.
It is hoped that the joint declaration on cooperation will be signed in November.
Also present at the function were the Norwegian Ambassador to Tanzania and the EAC, Hanne-Marie Kaarstad; EAC Deputy Secretary-General (Planning and Infrastructure), Dr Enos Bukuku; EAC Director-General Customs and Trade, Peter Kiguta, and other senior officials.
The EABC is the apex body of private sector associations in the EAC region. Its main role is to lobby for and articulate private sector interests with the goal of creating an enabling environment to ensure the competitiveness of the private sector at the regional and international level.
Innovation Norway’s regional office for East Africa serves as the commercial section of the Norwegian embassies in the region.