Non-tariff barriers are impacting trade in the region © Camille Delbos/Art In All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images
Non-tariff barriers are impacting trade in the region © Camille Delbos/Art In All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images

Call for more East African trade amid standards 'tiff'

24 June 2021

Zanzibar president Hussein Ali Mwinyi has called for increased trade among East African Community (EAC) states to drive economic prosperity in the region. 

Mwinyi called on the EAC Secretariat to work with partners to reduce non-tariff barriers, which he said were impeding intra-regional trade, and harmonise relationships between national standards bodies that certify goods.

The EAC has described standards bodies as currently being in a “tiff”.

Mwinyi said it was important standards authorities did not insist on retesting imported goods that had already been certified in other partner states.

He also urged the EAC to extend regional infrastructure development projects, such as ports and marine transport, to link Zanzibar, an archipelago 30km off the coast of Tanzania, to other partner states. 

Meanwhile, a study by the Federation of East Africa Freight Forwarders Associations, the Shippers Council of East Africa, and the Africa Economic Consortium has concluded there is a lack of harmonised Covid testing and a standardised Covid-19 certificate among EAC states, according to Business Daily.

The study, conducted between March 2020 and March 2021 in the Kenyan inland container depots of Nairobi and Naivasha, the border towns of Namanga and Malaba, and Rusumu in Rwanda, found more than 75% of EAC transport and logistics businesses were negatively affected by the pandemic.

It called for better risk management planning and implementation strategies.

When the pandemic peaked in East Africa last year a lack of coordination around coronavirus testing requirements between different states meant journeys that normally took truck drivers four days could take up to three weeks.

The study found some routes, such as Dar es Salaam Port to Rwanda, had seen freight rates drop from $3,000 in January 2020 to $2,700 in September 2020.

Rates on others such as Dar es Salaam port to Goma in DRC had risen, going from $4,150 in May 2020 to $4,400 in September 2020.

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