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EAC moves closer to Africa free trade pact tariff offer

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The EAC countries’ flags: The official story is that integration will place the region on a stronger pedestal. FILE

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Summary

  • The East African Community (EAC) is a step closer to an harmonised tariff offer with other regional blocs.
  • The EAC Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) says they are finalising the tariff offer and have directed the EAC Secretariat to convene a meeting with experts.

The East African Community (EAC) is a step closer to an harmonised tariff offer with other regional blocs, which is a key requirement inimplementing a continent-wide initiative allowing duty-free, quota-free movement of goods.

The EAC Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) says they are finalising the tariff offer and have directed the EAC Secretariat to convene a meeting with experts, by December 15 to conclude the issue.

The EAC tariff offer currently stands at 85.86 percent against the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) modalities of 90 percent, which can access the regional market on preferential rates.

The tariff offer allows countries within Africa to trade goods freely without imposing taxes on import or exports from one region to another under the continental free trade agreement.

Currently, goods coming from other regional blocs such as Economic Community for West Africa are subjected to common external tariff duty to access the EAC market, a thing that will now be abolished once the tariff offer is finalised.

EAC Secretary-General Peter Mathuki said a lot needs to be done to kick-off trading under the agreement.

“Regional Economic Communities are major building blocks in the realisation of the AfCFTA. EAC is keen on implementing policies, decisions, and directives, to ease trading under the agreement set to widen integration and increase Intra-Africa trade” said Mr Mathuki.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Trade and Industrialisation Betty Maina, who is also the current chair of the Sectoral meeting decried the persistence of Non-tariff Barriers (NTBs) in the region.

“NTBs negate the vision of a common market and are a threat to both local and foreign investment in the region,” she said.

Ms Maina called for continuous engagements among the Partner States through existing regional and bilateral mechanisms for NTB resolution.

The Secretariat was also directed to revise the EAC Schedule of Specific Commitments on Trade in Services and review the Trade in services offers made by State and Non-State Parties for the AfCFTA.