Policies hurting EAC customs union – experts

Experts have faulted EAC member states for maintaining national policies that impede free movement of goods and persons within the regional bloc.

Experts have faulted EAC member states for maintaining national policies that impede free movement of goods and persons within the regional bloc.

The free movement is provided for under the Common Market Protocol that was assented to by all the five partner states of the East African Community. Experts say these hurdles are hurting economic development of the grouping.

The concerns were raised on Wednesday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, during a three-day conference organised by East African Business Council and other partners.

The conference aims at sensitising the regional private sector on the movement of goods and services as provided for under the protocol as well as discussing concerns hindering the business communities.

According to the protocol, goods, services and labour are supposed to freely move in all the five partner states, but different barriers prevail and some governments don’t look keen to remove them.

Some of the outstanding issues are strict immigration policies, failure to recognise qualifications from certain countries as well as other non -tariff barriers which derail the smooth operations of business in the community.

“The Common Market Protocol has to be implemented fully as agreed upon if the community is to benefit. The citizenry must move to understand the market; that’s how the European Union evolved,” said Malcolm McKinnon, an economic expert with the International Trade Centre,  during an interview with The New Times.

Without giving names, he said in some countries, if you want to open a business, you are required by national policies to hire local managers and workers to run your business, which poses a risk in case of lack of local expertise in that particular field. Experts also argued that if the community is to benefit more from the integration,  all the restrictions of movement and operations must be immediately eliminated.

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