EAC MUST DO MORE ON NON-TARIFF BARRIERS

By The Citizen Reporter

A recent dialogue between key trade actors from the public and private sectors of the economy has established that trade barriers continue to be a major challenge within the East African Community (EAC).

The event, which took place at the Mutukula border post between Tanzania and Uganda, was jointly organized by the East African Business Council (EABC) and Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), and brought together around fifty of attendees.

One thing leading to another, the dialogue definitively concluded that tariff and non-tariff barriers (TTB and BNT) continue to be a real obstacle not only to cross-border trade, but also to intra-regional investment flows within the six EAC member countries of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

Apparently, these negative developments continue in the regional economic integration bloc despite recent efforts by national governments – acting alone or jointly in some cases – to mitigate the adverse situation, mainly through policy and regulatory interventions.

Generally speaking, trade barriers take the form of tariff or non-tariff measures imposed by national governments with the primary purpose of restricting trade with other countries.

Most often, barriers are imposed with the aim of protecting producers in the taxing country of traded goods, primarily for the domestic market. Non-tariff barriers include – but are not limited to – import quotas/bans, subsidies to domestic producers, protectionism and other technical barriers.

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If nothing else, it makes international trade in all its forms more difficult – and therefore more expensive – and, at times, leads to trade wars.

In noble efforts to avoid all such inconveniences in national economies caused by trade barriers, stakeholders and other supporters once again urge EAC member governments to review their tariff and non-tariff barrier regimes as soon as possible. .

This is in order to further relax the regimes in the interest of regional economic integration.

UNACCEPTABLE PROJECT DELAYS

Recently, President Samia Suluhu Hassan was in Mara region to commemorate 45 years since the formation of the ruling CCM. The President took the opportunity to express serious concerns about development projects that take too long to implement.

Two such projects are the construction of the Makutano-Sanzate road and the Musoma-Makoja road which started in 2013 but was not yet completed nine years later – no pun intended. The reason(s) for this is/are not entirely clear, although there is no doubt that the funds for the project were released by the government when and when due.

In any case, the President ordered the Regional Commissioner of Mara, Mr. Ally Hapi, to immediately take appropriate action. This includes establishing the cause(s) of excessively long delays in project implementation: whether or not project funds are misappropriated; or the delays are due to the incompetence of the contractors/executors.

Gaps in project implementation are a nationwide challenge, and we need to come up with tough and deterrent measures to nip the problem in the bud, rather than waiting for action from the seat of government when and where the problem arises.

About Mallory Brown

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