EAC High Level Trade Integration Conference kicks off in Nairobi
East African Community Secretariat, 26th September, 2019: Nairobi: The East African Community High Level Trade Integration Conference themed “Enhancing Trade Integration in the East African Community” kicked off Wednesday at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.
Addressing the participants, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for EAC and Regional Development, Mr. Adan Mohamed, said the region had made tremendous progress in the realm of trade facilitation including the transformation of Customs processes, the introduction of technology in driving regional business, re-orienting border operations under the coordinated border management concept, and re-engineering immigration procedures.
“I am proud as an East African that today fellow citizens of East African can move around without any hindrances. The one network area and one tourist visa for some Partner States is another bold step we have taken and I am hopeful that all the Partner States will soon be on board,” said Mohammed.
The Cabinet Secretary challenged conference participants to adopt a people- and solution-oriented approach to challenges to trade and regional integration in the region.
“From where I stand, East Africans expect you at the East African Community Secretariat, you in this conference and the political leadership to provide solutions that will improve their standards of living and reduction in poverty levels,” said the CS.
Mr. Mohamed underscored the roles of both the public and private sectors in ensuring that the region contributes not only to better economic development in general but that the ordinary person reaps the benefits of being part of the Community.
“I urge you to invest your time to come up with implementable recommendations and resolutions on trade integration in region,” he added.
On his part, the EAC Deputy Secretary General, in charge of Planning and infrastructure, Eng. Steven Mlote, said the Trade Conference was a precursor to the commemoration of the EAC’s 20th Anniversary and 15th Anniversary of the Customs Union Protocol.
Eng. Mlote who represented the EAC Secretary General, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, said that it was high time for the region to reflect on the achievements made under the Customs Union, which was the entry point into the EAC regional integration.
“The Customs Union has registered a number of successes including application of a common Customs law, operationalization of the Single Customs Territory (SCT), the establishment of One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs), the Authorized Economic Operator Programme and interconnectivity of the Customs business systems. Under the SCT, we have reduced the turnaround time and tremendously cut down the cost of moving goods in the region,” said Eng. Mlote.
‘’Allow me to humbly acknowledge the leadership of the Heads of State in reforming the Customs and trade environment in the region. It is in the public domain that the Heads of State have personally presided over the launching of One Stop Border Posts in the region. This demonstrates the commitment of that their Excellences have not only to regional integration but also to changing the way we do trade among ourselves as East Africans,” he added.
Eng. Mlote highlighted other important trade related developments at the Continental level including progress towards the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) bringing together EAC, SADC and COMESA, adding that so far three EAC Partner States, namely Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda had ratified the protocol which was signed in June 2015.
The DSG urged the other three Partner States to also ratify the Agreement in accordance with the timelines that have been agreed upon so as to enable the Community to maximize on the opportunities offered by the Tripartite Free Trade Area.
He challenged the participants to have robust discussions on the state of trade in the EAC and, more importantly, define sectors and issues that the region should focus on.
- ENDS -
For more information, please contact:
Simon Peter Owaka
Senior Public Relations Officer
Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department
Tel: +255 768 552087
Email: sowaka [at] eachq.org
About the East African Community Secretariat:
The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of six Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudna, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
The EAC Secretariat is ISO 9001: 2008 Certified