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.