The economies of the EAC depend on export of agricultural commodities, manufactured products, and services such as tourism, ICT and financial services. To a large extent trade between the Partner States as well as with the rest of the world is mainly on primary commodities though there is an increase in the trade of finished goods.
The composition of EAC trade is dominated by agricultural commodities, namely coffee, tobacco, cotton, rice, maize, wheat and tea.
Manufactured goods such as cement, petroleum, textiles, sugar, confectionery, beer, salt fats and oils, steel and steel products, paper, plastics and pharmaceuticals are also traded across the region.
EAC intra-regional imports grew by 13.9% to USD 2.8 billion from USD 2.5 billion in 2017. Intra-regional exports grew by 5.6% to USD 3.2 billion in 2018 from USD 2.9% in 2017.
The growth in intra-regional trade was attributed to increased production of agricultural commodities leading to higher exports that are traded among the Partner States especially maize, rice and dairy products; elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers; as well as increased intra-EAC trade in intermediate products like cold rolled iron and clinker (EAC, 2018).