Free movement of goods within and between the Partner States of the EAC region is provided for by Article 6 of the CMP and is governed by the Customs Law of the Community as specified in Article 39 of the Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Community Customs Union. It allows intra-trade in goods locally produced within the region.
Article 5(2)(a) of the CMP provides for:
- Elimination of Tariffs & Equivalent measures;
- Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and technical barriers to trade;
- Implementation of a Common External Tariff (CET);
- Harmonization and Mutual Recognition of SPS & TBT Standards.
The Partner States committed to remove tariffs, non-Tariff barriers (NTBs) and measures of equivalent effect. They also committed to implement a Common External Tariff (CET), EAC standards and product assurance, harmonize sanitary and phytosanitary measures and other customs laws.
Elimination of tariffs on intra-regional trade
Article 14 of the Protocol on the establishment of the East African Community Customs Union provides that, goods shall be accepted as eligible for the community tariff treatment if they originate in the Partner States.
Rule 4 of the East African Community Customs Union (Rules of Origin) Rules, 2015 ("EAC Rules of Origin”) provide for the origin criteria whereby goods are to be considered to have originated in the partner state if they are (a) wholly produced in the Partner State; or (b) produced in the Partner State incorporating materials which have not been wholly obtained there, provided that such materials have undergone sufficient working or processing in the Partner State.
The rules of origin are the criteria used to determine the nationality of a product. Rules of Origin ascertain the country of origin or nationalities of imports, the production processes involved and ascertain trade relationships between countries in either a Preferential Area or Customs Union. Once the origin of goods is ascertained, a Certificate of Origin (CO) is issued by the respective revenue authorities or a designated relevant agency in the EAC Partner State.
Elimination of NTBs
By virtue of Article 13 of the Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Community Customs Union, Partner States committed to remove, with immediate effect, all the existing non-tariff barriers to the importation into their respective territories of goods originating in the other Partner States and, thereafter, not to impose any new non-tariff barriers.
The Customs Union Protocol defines non-tariff barriers as “laws, regulations, administrative and technical requirements other than tariffs imposed by a Partner State whose effect is to impede trade.”
Article 5 (2) (a) of the CMP identifies the elimination of non‐tariff barriers to trade as one of the key obligations to facilitate the free movement of goods across the region.
The EAC Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) Monitoring Mechanism was developed as a joint initiative of the East African Business Council (EABC) and the East African Community Secretariat. Its objective is to facilitate the process of identifying, reporting and monitoring the elimination of current and future NTBs within the EAC Partner States, so as to consolidate the economic integration process under the EAC Customs Union.
The NTB monitoring mechanism is based on two key principles, namely:
- goodwill and commitment at both the political and technical levels to implement aspirations of the EAC Treaty; and
- enshrinement of the Legal and Regulatory Framework governing the integration process.
Protocol on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures
Article 108 of the EAC Treaty stipulates that States shall harmonize and strengthen sanitary and phytosanitary services inspection and certification. Article 38 of the Protocol on the Establishment of the EAC Customs Union provide for the Partner States to harmonize Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures in order to facilitate trade within the Community and other trading partners.
The SPS Protocol, which was adopted in July 2013, proposes a common and improved framework in EAC to promote trade in food and agricultural commodities and strengthen the application of a harmonized approach for implementation of SPS measures and activities.
It provides the legal basis for further reforms that are expected to guarantee better food safety measures, plant protection and animal health. The primary objective of the SPS Protocol is to adopt and enforce SPS measures that minimize negative effects on trade. The Protocol harmonizes regional standards that align the EAC Partner States with each other and with global markets, ensuring easier trade.
Aims of SPS Regime
- To safeguard the public, provide clear standards for producers and traders, and facilitate the smooth transit of safe goods between countries;
- Improve mitigation of risks arising from pests, diseases and food safety concerns; improve competitiveness of produce originating from EAC in external markets; and help the region effectively contain major threats.