East African Business Council (EABC) in collaboration with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) are behind the Public-Private Sector Dialogue (PPD) for Trade and Investment which will last between 2019 and 2023.
EABC’s CEO, Peter Mathuki said the project aims to enhance advocacy and dialogue on transport and logistics, trade facilitation, customs and tax, standards, and non-tariff barriers at regional and country level.
“In addition, the programme extends beyond the EAC and incorporates the COMESA, COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) and Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” Mathuki said.
“The EABC is keen to enhance dialogue and partnership between the private and public sectors, hence EABC will spearhead the programme in close collaboration with the all national and regional sectoral private sector associations in the EAC,” Mathuki added.
He elaborated that for businesses in the region to grow and expand within and beyond the EA, there is a need for technical and financial support to EABC so that it advocates and input substantive issues affecting the business community in regard to policy formulation and implementation.
“Barriers to trading across borders such as multiple product standard inspections, bureaucratic trade procedures delays business transactions and increase the cost of doing business. EABC will evaluate and monitor EAC policies to ensure they work for businesses at the ground level and create momentum for accelerating the policy reforms,” the EABC CEO stressed.
TMEA acting Director of Private Sector Advocacy, Allan Ngugi seconded Mathuki’s observation by stating that reforms are important to improve the business and investment climate across the EAC.
“Public-private dialogue can facilitate the trade and investment climate reforms by promoting better diagnosis of investment climate problems, transparency and inclusive design of policy reforms making policies easier to implement,” said Ngugi.
“We have launched this new partnership with EABC to galvanize and facilitate trade and investments in the EAC,” Ngugi added.
He said the partnership comes at an opportune time when the EAC integration process is marking 20 years in November 2019 since the signing of the Treaty hence important that the private sector and government dialogue and ensure that protocols and policies work on the ground for EAC businesses.
The programme seeks to contribute to the reduction of transport (road, rail, and air) cost and time along transport corridors by 10 percent and increase the efficiency of logistic services. Furthermore, it will increase the export capacity of East African businesses and enhance customs and other trade-related agencies efficiency by reducing time to process trade documentation.
According to World Trade Organization, the Central Corridor’s turnaround time between the port of Dar es Salaam and Kigali (or Bujumbura) has been reduced from over 20 days to 6 in recent years thanks to measures to reduce NTBs.
World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report for 2018 ranked EAC at 149 out of 190 in the ease of trading across borders noting that time taken to export cargo within the region averages at 76 hours which is too high compared to 12.5 hours in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s high income economies.
The export documentary compliance in the region takes 80.2 hours and cost USD 170.2 while in OECD high income