EAC Partner States will soon adopt the EAC Pass to facilitate the movement of citizens amid the pandemic.
The Covid-19 Authentication Pass for Block Citizens is intended to facilitate travel across the region’s internal borders.
The Principal Secretary of the East African Community Department of State, Ministry of East African Community and Regional Development, Kenya, Dr. Kevit Desai, hailed the efforts to strengthen the regional integration agenda.
He was speaking at the East African Business Council (EABC) Trade Facilitation Forum held at the Taveta/Holili One Stop Border Post.
Dr Desai called for collective efforts towards trade facilitation and value addition to boost manufacturing and urged East African businesspeople to boldly tap into the markets of the Democratic Republic Congo and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
On their part, the Chairpersons of Women Cross-Border Traders said that the non-harmonised measures on COVID-19 increase the cost of doing business, citing the USD 10 antigen test on the Tanzanian side while on the Kenyan side is free. Women cross-border traders also clarified that the simplified EAC trade regime is not being implemented as expected.
Speaking at the Forum, Mr. John Bosco Kalisa said, “The Taveta/Holili One Stop Border Post cleared 33,000 cargo trucks in 2021, a 73% increase from 19,000 in 2020” . He explained that the increase in trade volume highlights the importance of removing non-tariff barriers for the rapid recovery and resilience of EAC economies amid COVID-19.
He called for a green channel for East African products across the border to boost intra trade and competitiveness of the region.
Levies on transit and EAC-originating goods (East African products) by counties in Kenya and re-testing of products by standards bureaus are among other hurdles raised by chief executives. company during the forum.
Women cross-border traders recommended more awareness campaigns on the simplified EAC trade regime, customs procedures and the formation of clusters and consolidation of products to be deployed in order to facilitate trade.
The East African Grains Council and Taha Fresh have called on customs agencies to offer priority clearance for perishables and all agricultural products, especially during computer system outages to avoid delays.
Dr. Desai urged the regular holding of joint border management committees, strengthening of partnerships to set up the Jumuiya market in Taita/Taveta and explained that the trade reform unit of the ministry will work closely with EABC and chambers of commerce to analyze county regulatory compliance. .
Kalisa said that Holili/Taveta OSBP connects the Northern and Central Corridor and has strong potential to develop into a leading commercial hub on the continent.
The forum also recommended that cross-border traders be allowed to cross and do business up to 10 km on both sides of the border, the rapid deployment of the EAC COVID-19 pass and the improvement of infrastructure such as cargo scanners.
The EABC Trade Facilitation Forum brought together over 60 delegates comprising of officials from the EAC Ministry, Trade Facilitation Agencies, Importers, Exporters, Carriers and Freight Forwarders, the sub-regional initiative to support the advancement of East African women (EASSI) and women. cross-border traders.
The forum was supported by the GIZ program “Support for Market-Oriented and People-Centred Integration” (SEAMPEC) of GIZ.