Uhuru pushes for removal of EAC trade barriers

President Uhuru Kenyatta. PHOTO | FILE
President Uhuru Kenyatta. PHOTO | FILE 

President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) to assist the business community overcome trade barriers in order to actualise free trade across the East African Community (EAC).

He said obstacles such as long clearing procedures, road blocks and changes in regulations negatively impacted business expansion.

In a speech delivered by Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro on Tuesday, Mr Kenyatta said Eala and the EAC partner states are duty-bound to support the business community address challenges they face.

“Our business community has been a keen partner and driver of our integration process. We are, therefore, duty-bound to support them in addressing the challenges they face in conducting and expanding their businesses,” he said.

The Eala recently passed a binding legislation to eliminate non-tariff barriers (NTB) to trade among the EAC Partner states.

NTBs come in various forms and often limit market access, changing the quantities of goods traded or increasing the prices of the goods.

Mr Kenyatta noted the bringing into force of the EAC NTB Act 2015 was laudable and a critical area that requires concerted efforts from all, to bring a long-lasting and sustainable solution to the NTB problem.

He said there is a need to do more in ensuring industrialisation flourishes and agriculture is given priority.

“While keeping up our focus on infrastructural developments, we need to ensure that the goods that are carried on these roads and on the railway are made in East Africa,” he said.

In his address to the Assembly in 2015, Mr Kenyatta committed to support Eala’s proposal on a review of the process of assenting to Bills through shortening the period taken to enforce them.

His promise was actualised in February 2016 when the Summit resolved to be signing Eala Bills collectively on the same day during the Summit meetings.

The Assembly has passed more than 20 Bills.