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Collection, Analysis , Compilation and dissemination of trade and Investment information

Trade Information Portals

As a means of facilitating trade and increasing transparency, EAC developed and launched a Trade Information Portal (TIP). The TIP gives access to step-by-step guides on licenses, pre-clearance permits and clearance formalities for the most traded goods within, to and from the EAC.

The TIP is linked with national trade portals that present step-by-step the national import and export procedures in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

For each step, the trade portal tells the user where to go, who to see, what documents to bring, what forms to fill, what costs to pay, what law justifies the step, and where to lodge a complaint in case of a problem.

A central part of the TIP is the Trade Facilitation Index (TFI), which enables institutions engaged in trade facilitation to measure and compare the ease of importing and exporting, and the related administrative burden between EAC Partner States. The EAC trade information portal and trade information portals (TIPs) in Partner States are accessible at: tradehelpdesk.eac.int

EAC Trade and Investment Report

The EAC Secretariat annually compiles, publishes and disseminates trade information through the production of the Annual EAC Trade and Investment Report

EAC Trade and Investment Report 2020 - Highlights

The EAC Secretariat has continued to strengthen the Community Protocols and Partner States have been committed to ensuring a smooth flow of people, goods and services by removing barriers to trade and investment. Consequently, export and import trade comprising agricultural goods and manufactured goods is liberalised. Intra-EAC trade has continued to grow with trends showing that each Partner State is gaining a significant share of the EAC market.

The outbreak of COVID-19 that affected world economies did not spare the EAC Region and its Partner States. It slowed down most economic activities, especially trade and investment. The total trade for EAC declined by 6.08 percent to US$51,915 million in 2020 from US$55,278.2 million in 2019. Total exports from the region in the same period increased by 3.15 percent to US$16,257 million from US$15,760.8 million in 2019. The increase was attributed to the increase in value of EAC exports to United Arabs Emirates and United Kingdom. While total intra-EAC Exports decreased by 7.37 percent in 2020. This decline in exports was due to the COVID-19 pandemic which reduced manufacturing output and slowed down economic activities. On the other hand, total EAC imports decreased by 9.77 percent to US$35,658 million in 2020 from US$39,517.50 million in 2019. The relative decline in EAC imports between 2019 and 2020 was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which reduced trading activities with import partners, mainly China, India and the EU. In addition, the intra-EAC total imports declined by 3.71 percent during the year under review.

In 2020, Republic of Burundi’s total trade decreased by 7.9 percent to US$840.1 million from US$913.2 million recorded in 2019, while exports to her EAC Partner States declined by 16.4 percent to 12.20 from 14.60. Also, the overall domestic exports earnings declined by 24.57 percent to US$153.42 million in 2020 from US$203.40 million in 2019. During the same period, Burundi’s domestic imports decreased by 2.59 percent, to US$909.81 million, from US$934.00 million recorded in 2019. With regard to services exports trade, Burundi strategically positioned itself during the year, making the highest growth in history of up to 102.3 percent in commercial presence, followed by 42.6 percent in presence of natural persons, and 20 percent for Intra-EAC trade. Government services dropped slightly by 0.7 percent in 2020.

In 2020, Kenya’s total trade in goods decreased by 8.76 percent, from US$23,483 million in 2019 to US$21,427 million in 2020. The exports trade increased by 3.14 percent with her total exports to the rest of the world valued at US$6,021 million compared with that of 2019 at US$5,838 million. The country’s imports declined by 12.7 percent, from US$17,646 million in 2019 to US$15,406 million in 2020. It is noteworthy that for almost a decade before COVID-19 struck the world, Kenya was leading in trade in services in the EAC Region. Even at the peak of the pandemic in 2020, the services sector strongly supported Kenya’s economic growth.

Rwanda’s exports to the world in 2020 fell by 17.85 to record US$958.4 million against US$1,166.7 million in 2019. During the same period, total trade in goods increased by 13.17 percent to US$3,591.26 million in 2020, while imports rose by 2.28 percent from US$2,574.2 million to US$2,632.82 million in 2020. Notwithstanding, trade in services plays an important role in the economy of Rwanda. For example, in 2020, services on intellectual property grew by 100 percent, and, due to increased demand for ICT, telecommunication, computer and information services in Rwanda, this service sub-sector grew by 5.4 percent, recording US$20.9 million from US$19.7 million in 2019.

The youngest partner state in the EAC is the Republic of South Sudan whose total trade to the world in 2020 declined by 93.54 percent to US$36.85 million compared with US$553.22 million in 2019. During the same period, total intra-EAC trade with South Sudan dropped to US$11.2 from US$232.7 million in 2019.

In the United Republic of Tanzania, the private sector leads as the engine for economic growth. In 2020, minerals accounted for the biggest proportion of Tanzania’s exports. Gold was the highest export with US$2,959.2 million, comprising more than 50 percent of the country’s total exports. Tanzania’s total trade increased marginally by 3.7 percent to US$ 14,582.60 million in 2020, from US$ 14,058.44 million in 2019. Tanzania’s main export destinations in the EAC during the year were Kenya at US$230.2 million, Rwanda at US$208 million, Uganda at US$191.3 million and Burundi at US$179 million. Trade in services declined from the fourth quarter of 2019, hitting a decline of 67.9 percent in the third quarter of 2020, from a negative growth rate of 0.69 percent in 2019.

Surprisingly, the Republic of Uganda had a record total trade increase of 4.6 percent accounting for US$12,398.33 million in 2020, from US$12,849.45 million in 2019. Uganda’s imports rose from US$7,753.79 million in 2019 to US$8,250.51 million in 2020, which is an increase of 6.41 percent. During the same period, total exports increased by 1.13 percent to US$4,147.82million in 2020 from US$4,095.66 million in 2019. Likewise, transportation, travel and commercial services exhibited substantial growth in the country. The commercial services sector could not however pick up and drastically dropped in two quarters of 2020.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows into EAC are an important instrument to support mechanization of Agriculture, and transformation and industrialisation in the region. Over the past years, industrial production in the region has increased, buoyed by investment in manufacturing, construction and financial services. Likewise, the region has sought to exploit its abundant natural resources endowment, especially oil in South Sudan and Uganda, minerals in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, and tourism and financial services in the majority of the Partner States. The Partner States have undertaken reforms to improve the investment climate to promote industrial development and resource exploitations and consequently provide a conducive environment to attract FDI.

Generally, Total investment into East Africa decreased by almost 46.29 percent, falling from US$11.64 billion in 2019 to US$6.25 billion in 2020. This fall is attributed to COVID-19, which led to a shutdown of economic activities. The performance of the EAC Partner States in FDI shows that Burundi recorded the highest percentage growth of 179.7 percent. FDI inflows to Kenya decreased by 24.63 percent to US$917.93 million; and the inflows to Rwanda declined by 47.93 percent to a low record of US$1,281.39 million. Notably, the FDI inflows to South Sudan showed a decrease of 67.75 percent, from US$3,879.60 million in 2019 to US$1,251.14 million, while that of Tanzania declined by 71.25 percent to US$754.59 million in 2020. Moreover, FDI inflows into Uganda increased by 16.57 percent to US$1,445.48 million in 2020. It was noted that in 2020, the number of jobs created as a result of FDI inflows to the EAC region fell by 72.5 percent to 58,017 jobs in 2020 from 211,084 in 2019.

Notably, domestic investments have become the key development strategy for EAC Region. In 2020, Uganda marked a large increase in domestic investment value by 19.72 percent at US$518.38 million, followed by Rwanda whose domestic investment accounted for US$331.39 million. However, Burundi experienced the highest percentage increase in domestic investments by 188.50 percent at US$251.57 million from US$87.20 million in 2019.

Furthermore, The FDI into East Africa decreased by 43.39 percent from US$8.67 billion in 2019 to US$4.91 billion in 2020. Only Burundi recorded growth in the year under review, with a 173 percent surge from US$127.2 million to US$348.10 million, while Uganda’s FDI inflows increased by 14.88 percent, from US$807.00 million in 2019 to US$ 927.10 million in 2020. The FDI inflows to Kenya decreased by 33.14 percent from US$ 1,217.9 million to US$814.30 million. And the inflows to Rwanda also decreased by 52.10 percent, from US$1,983.32 million in 2019 to US$950.00 million in 2020, while South Sudan showed a decrease of 64.32 percent from US$3,315.9 million to US$1,183.20 million. Likewise, FDI inflows to Tanzania declined by 43.73 percent to US$684.9 million from US$1,217.2 million.

By and large, there is great potential for growth in trade and investment in the EAC region, and the following recommendations can be worked out by the Partner States. First of all, and in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Partner States should review and harmonise the COVID-19 testing charges, and the validity and mutual recognition of COVID-19 certificates to ensure safe and smooth movement of goods, persons, services and service suppliers in the Region.


Promotion and Development of MSMEs and E-Commerce to enhance Intra EAC Trade

The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)/ Informal sector plays a pivotal role in the EAC region as the single largest employment creator per year in the region and therefore a source of wealth and employment creation. MSMEs, therefore, are of critical importance in the integration and economic transformation of the East African region.

Article 44 of the EAC Common Market Protocol provides that Partner States shall adopt common principles to facilitate the development of Micro, Small and Medium Industries and Promote indigenous entrepreneurs.

The Secretariat implements this mandate by undertaking the following activities:

  • Organize and facilitate the annual EAC Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Trade Fairs,

  • Undertake Capacity Building Programmes for MSMEs and Trade Facilitation Institutions,

  • Facilitate the Implementation of the EAC Simplified Trade Regime (STR) for small-scale cross-border traders,

  • Undertake border monitoring missions to ascertain the effectiveness of the STR and conduct sensitization and awareness raising for the small-scale cross-border traders;

  • Establishment of a Buyers and Sellers Platform for MSMEs.

EAC Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Trade Fairs,

The EAC Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Trade Fair is a platform that supports MSME development. Formerly known as Jua Kali/ Nguvu Kazi Exhibition, the trade fair is an annual event that exposes the best MSMEs’ products produced in the region. 

Artisans of all trades ranging from but not limited to wood carvings, furniture, pottery, food production, clothing & textiles, leather, jewelry, personal care products and metal fabricators from the EAC Partner States converge to showcase the various products and services produced by the sector at the annual trade fair.

The first such Trade Fair was held in Arusha in November 1999 during the signing of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. Subsequent to the success of the Arusha Trade Fair, the EAC Heads of State directed that the Trade Fair be held annually on rotational basis among the EAC Partner States in an effort to enhance and revamp the socio-economic integration of the people of East Africa.

Since its inception in 1999, the EAC Secretariat has worked very closely with the Confederation of Micro and Small Enterprises Organization of East Africa (formally EA-CISO) and the EAC Partner States to stage the exhibitions across the region on a rotational basis, with different themes each year.

Over the two decades, the annual Trade Fairs have brought together exhibitors from the East African region for the purposes of opening up new market frontiers for their products while bridging up the knowledge and technological gaps between them.


The EAC Buyers and Sellers Platform

The EAC recognises the potential of ICT through a dynamic and functioning digital economy in contributing to socio-economic growth in the region. In this regard, the EAC Secretariat has conducted a comprehensive assessment of the Intra- EAC ecosystem in all the Partner States, covering e-commerce from the perspective of various stakeholders: government (policy makers and regulators), private sector (logistics and online marketplaces), and the postal sector, as key facilitators of e-commerce.

The objective of this comprehensive assessment was to determine the status of Intra-EAC e-commerce in EAC, and generate actionable recommendations to guide further development of e-commerce in the region, with emphasis on Intra-EAC e-commerce.

On the basis of the assessment, an EAC E-Commerce Strategy was developed to address gaps and opportunities in key policy areas that have Intra-EAC effects such as regulatory frameworks, trade logistics/facilitation, payment systems, skills development, SMEs and gender issues.

The EAC Buyer-Seller Platform is an e-commerce platform that is currently under development.

The Platform will bring to light products produced in the region and therefore provide awareness and market of EAC products.

The EAC Buyer-Seller Platform is envisaged to enhance intra-EAC trade and investment and will contain an integrated database/catalog of manufacturers, producers, SMEs, (registered) MSMEs and wholesalers and their respective products, as well as logistics/service providers, and respective services.

As part of marketing and promoting the private sector in the region, the platform will provide opportunities for exhibition space for products produced within the region.

Monitoring the Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers

A Non-Taroff Barrier (NTB) is a trade restriction–such as a quota, embargo or sanction–that countries use to further their political and economic goals. Countries usually opt for Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) (rather than traditional tariffs) in international trade.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) identifies various NTBs to trade, including import licensing, pre-shipment inspections, rules of origin, custom delayers, and other mechanisms that prevent or restrict trade.

Countries use NTBs as an economic strategy to control the level of trade they conduct with other countries. When making decisions on the NTBs to implement in international trade, countries base the barriers on the availability of goods and services for import and export, as well as the existing political alliances with other trade partners. Countries may elect to release other countries from being subjected to additional taxes on imported or exported goods and instead create other non-tariff barriers with a different monetary effect.

The EAC Partner States agreed to, as provided under Article 75 (5) of the Treaty, remove all the existing non-tariff barriers on the importation into their territory of goods originating from the other Partner States and thereafter to refrain from imposing any further non-tariff barriers.

Article 13 of the Customs Union Protocol provides for the elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) in order to promote Intra EAC Trade. The Article stipulates that, ‘Except as may be provided for or permitted by this Protocol, each of the Partner States agrees 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’.

With this mandate, the EAC Secretariat works with the National Focal Points in Partner States to resolve NTBs through the available mechanisms in the Region. The mechanisms are provided for under Customs Union Protocol Section 6 (2) which stipulates that the Partner States shall formulate a mechanism for identifying and monitoring the removal of non-tariff barriers. In realization of this Section, the EAC Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers Act 2017 was enacted.

The Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers Act 2017 provides for the following mechanisms:

  • National Monitoring Committees established in all Partner States;
  • Regional Monitoring Committees;
  • EAC Time Bound Programme on the elimination of NTBs;
  • Elimination by Mutual agreement;
  • Web-Based System on the elimination of NTBs;

EAC has in place mechanisms to report and resolve NTBs through National Monitoring Committees established at the national level, and Regional Monitoring Committees which meet quarterly to deliberate and resolve NTBs in the Region.

An EAC Time Bound Programme on the elimination of NTBs is embedded into the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite web-based NTBs Monitoring System; and was operationalised in 2007.

To date 230 NTBs have been resolved cumulatively.

Internal Trade

The East African Community offers a large market for trade in merchandise and services. With a population of about 186.9 million consumers alongside millions of others from inter-regional trade with other African blocs, the region’s demand for goods and services is quite high.

Also, the abundance of most precious natural resources ranging from minerals to oil to gas to fish to arable land to beautiful climate to tourist attractions to quality human capital to ease of access to finance, and the region’s strategic location in the world makes it the best destination for foreign investment. Most recently, the Region has improved infrastructure, such as roads, ports, airlines, electricity and telecommunication, and enjoys good governance of the Partner States, which enhances the conduciveness of the environment for local and foreign investors.

Article 74 of the Treaty provided for the development and adoption of an East African Trade Regime and co-operate in trade liberalisation and development by the Partner States.

The EAC Directorate of Trade was established in 2004 together with the Directorate of Customs. The main objective was to effectively coordinate the implementation of the EAC Customs Union Protocol.

Under the Directorate of Trade, the department of Internal Trade is mandated to oversee the Free Movement of Goods and Services within the EAC boundaries through the elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers, compilation and dissemination of Trade Statistics and promotion of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). In general, the Department promotes trade between and within the EAC Partner States.

With a mission to widen and deepen economic, political, social and cultural integration in order to improve the quality of life of the people of East Africa, the EAC encourages and promotes new and better ways of doing business. The EAC seeks to progressively transform into a single market that allows the free movement of goods, persons, services, labour and capital, while guaranteeing rights to residence and establishment.

Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers

Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers

Article 13 of the Customs Union Protocol provides for the elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers in order to promote Intra EAC Trade.

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Promotion of E-Commerce and MSMEs

Promotion of E-Commerce and MSMEs

Article 44 of the EAC Common Market Protocol provides that Partner States shall adopt common Principles to facilitate the development of MIcro, Small and Medium Industries and Promote indigenous entrepreneurs.

Read more

Trade and Investment information

Trade and Investment information

Annual publication of trade information through the production of the Annual EAC Trade and Investment Report.

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Liberalization of Trade in Services

Trade in Services refers to the sale and delivery of an intangible product, called a service, between a producer and consumer. Trade in services that takes place between a producer and consumer that are, in legal terms, based in different countries is called International Trade in Services.

EAC Partner States have committed to scale up trade and investment in services sectors through guaranteeing free movement of services. Originally under the EAC Common Market Protocol, Partner States made commitments to liberalize a total of 144 sub-sectors in 7 priority sectors namely:

  1. Business;
  2. Communications;
  3. Distribution;
  4. Education;
  5. Financial;
  6. Tourism and Travel; and
  7. Transport.

The EAC Partner States further agreed to make additional commitments, at a future date, to liberalize the following additional service sectors that were not covered by the initial commitments:

  1. energy services;
  2. environmental services;
  3. health and social services;
  4. construction and related services; and
  5. recreation, cultural and sporting services.

The Revised Schedules of Commitments on the Progressive Liberalization of Services were adopted by the Sectoral Council for Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) in May 2019. In revising the Schedules of Commitments, Partner States also agreed to deepen their commitment, to a minimum of 78 sub-sectors per country.

Fast-tracking Liberalization of Trade in Services

In order to fast-track the liberalization of trade in services in the EAC region, Partner States adopted a Mechanism for the Removal of restrictions on Trade in Services within the EAC Partner States.

The mechanism serves two purposes – to monitor the removal of non-conforming measures (for committed sectors), and secondly, support Partner States in determining the level of restrictiveness of sectors and sub-sectors where commitments could potentially be undertaken in future rounds of negotiations.

Regulatory audits identifying restrictions were undertaken in the following services sectors: Professional, Communication, Tourism, Distribution, and Insurance services.

An excel template for operationalization of the mechanism for removal of trade in services restrictions in the EAC region was adopted and populated with data from the sector studies. The excel template is a source of reference to expedite implementation of commitments on trade in services under the EAC Common Market Protocol.

Implementation of Commitments in Trade in Services

To oversee and facilitate the implementation of the Mechanism, National Focal Points (NFPs) for Trade in Services have been appointed and National Trade in Services Committees (NTSC) established in each Partner State.

The NTSC facilitates the removal of restrictions and non-conforming measures; collaborate with NTSCs and NFPs of the other Partner States and disseminate information to the business community.

The NTSC feeds into to the Regional Trade in Services Committee (RCTS), whose role includes considering the reports of the NTSCs, as well as submitting periodic reports and recommendations to SCTIFI on the removal of restrictions on trade in services and non-conforming measures in the Community.

East African Community
EAC Close
Afrika Mashariki Road
P.O. Box 1096
United Republic of Tanzania

Tel: +255 (0)27 216 2100
Fax: +255 (0)27 216 2190
Email: eac@eachq.org