The Executive Director of East African Business Council (EABC), Agatha Nderitu, believes that unless other regional countries emulate Rwanda on eliminating the Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs), the region will not be fully integrated.
In exclusive interview with The New Times in Arusha, Tanzania, Nderitu noted that other regional governments should adopt the same political will that the Rwandan government has shown to ensure that all NTBs are eliminated.
“Rwanda is the only country that has done a lot in eliminating the NTBs. This is due to political commitment that is driven by President Kagame,” she said.
The most common NTBs noted are the unnecessary road blocks and weighbridges.
“If other countries do not adopt the same in the region, we shall continue suffering.”
Article 13 of the EAC Customs Union Protocol, obliges Partner States to “remove, with immediate effect, all existing non-tariff barriers to the importation … and thereafter, not to impose any new non-tariff barriers.”
She acknowledged that some countries had failed to get rid of NTBs and this has continued to hinder the economic integration of the East African countries.
For example, a transit truck using the Central Corridor from Dar es Salaam to Rwanda is required to pass through 28 roadblocks in Tanzania and one has to stop at nearly all of them even when carrying transit cargo with customs seals.
On the challenges affecting the elimination of NTBs, she said that the EAC Secretariat currently lacks the mandate (and capacity) to investigate and make rulings on reported NTBs.
She also said that the lack of sanctions to the country that fails to comply with the laws still remains an impediment as far as NTBs elimination is concerned.
“There is no provision for sanctions against any member that fails to comply with commitments to reduce and remove NTBs. Achieving compliance on the elimination of NTBs and preventing the emergence of new ones often requires the threat of legal sanctions with penalties for non-compliance – this is lacking at the EAC level,” she said.