L-R Leo Kizito Ojara Commissioner MEACA, Joseph Bukenya Programme Officer SEATINI UG, Faith Lumonya Programme Officer SEATINI UG & Anette Kenganzi Namara Assistant Commissioner, MEACA launching the policy brief & study during the meeting.
SEATINI, in partnership with the East African Trade & Investment Hub and the Ministry of East African Community Affairs (MEACA) organized the EAC Common Market Implementation meeting to disseminate and validate policy briefs and a company case study. The meeting provided an update on the progress of implementation of key trade and investment facilitating commitments that the Partner States made in respect to the EAC Common Market Protocol.
The meeting also aimed at generating recommendations on the required strategic reforms that will help accelerate implementation of the protocol in Uganda and in the rest of the EAC Partner States. Two key documents developed by SEATINI Uganda and the East African Trade and Investment Hub were disseminated:
During the meeting, Golooba Rodney a consultant on the study while validating a policy brief “Assessment of the coherence between Uganda’s tax laws and policies and the EAC common Market Protocol: Policy proposals for reform”, said the objective is to highlight issues to facilitate the smooth implementation of the Common Market Protocol. Harmonization of the tax settings in the common market i.e VAT & income tax rates to create a competitive environment which ensures all member countries have equal rates. The issue of the many non-tariff barriers in the region needs to be addressed.
SEATINI-UG with support from the East Africa Trade and Investment HUB organised a stakeholder’s dialogue to address the challenges/ Non-Tariff Barriers faced by Ugandan clearing & forwarding agents that inhibit access to Mombasa port as well as determining possible solutions. The overall objective of the EAC Common Market Protocol (CMP) is to widen and deepen cooperation among the partner states in the economic and social fields through removal of restrictions on the movement of goods, persons, labour, services and capital and the rights of establishment and residence. However, the implementation of the Common Market Protocol faces challenges. The 2016 EAC Time Bound Program (TBP) on elimination of NTBs in the region shows that while some NTBs have been resolved, many remain unresolved and new ones are imposed which results in hindering free movement of goods in the region.
The Ministry of East African Community affairs has a mandate to boost trade in the EAC. This can be fully achieved by ensuring smooth trade among all partner states. The council has provided for an arrangement for airing out issues. All countries can engage on a common table under the single customs in order to address any obstacles. This platform will enable the removal of NTBs that may disrupt the free movement of goods and services.
Stakeholders sharing challenges faced during transportation & clearing of goods in the EAC region.
The private sector in East Africa has asked Tanzania to harmonise the preferential treatments it offers to transit goods as a way of encouraging use of the central corridor .
While Rwandan trucks transiting through the central corridor (Dar es Salaam Port) each pay $150 (Shs535,000); other East African member states such as Uganda are charged $500 (Shs1.7 million) per truck for goods in transit.
Mr Kassim Omar, the chairman Uganda Clearing Industry and Forwarding Association, who is also East Africa Business Council (EABC) vice chair for Uganda, said: “Indeed, the Dar es Salaam Port has improved. But they need to harmonise the transit fees to make doing business in the region less costly.”
Mr Omar, together with other EABC members, had paid a courtesy visit to ambassador John Kijazi, chief secretary, office of the president of Tanzania on Tuesday.