East Africa aiming to boost intra-regional trade

20 May 2021

The volume of intra-regional trade within the East African Community (EAC) can be raised from its current level of below 20% to more than 50% over the next five years, according to EAC secretary general Peter Mathuki.

Mathuki told a breakfast roundtable meeting organised by the East African Business Council in Kampala, Uganda, this could be facilitated by factors such as increased industrialisation, particularly in agro-processing.

Accelerating the harmonisation of domestic taxes, fast tracking domestication of EAC Common Market Protocol commitments and promoting investment would also help generate intra-bloc trade, he said. 

Mathuki said he also plans to expand the use of public private partnerships to significantly reduce the national debt burden in the region.

He also pledged to work with member states to look at ways of reducing high-energy costs to improve the EAC’s attractiveness as an investment destination. 

During the meeting private sector representatives called for reductions to the cost of doing business and policy reforms to improve the competitiveness of regional products compared to those from outside the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

The EAC has also signed a $65m cooperation agreement with the German government to implement health, digital skills and water resources management projects.

The East African reported $17m had been allocated to the University of Rwanda to build expertise in digitalisation of health supply chain management, cold chain management, and quality control and drug safety.

Some $30m will go towards the EAC’s immunisation programme to reduce child morbidity and mortality.

And $6m will be allocated to the Centre of Excellence for ICT in East Africa based at the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology in Arusha.

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