EABC plans to reach $15 billion in intra-EAC trade in 2023

The East African Business Council (EABC) chairperson, Ms Angelina Ngalula, speaks during a past event. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The EAC trade value reached $10.17 billion by September 2022, reflecting a 20 percent proportion of intra-trade to world commerce

Arusha. The East African Business Council (EABC) chairperson, Ms Angelina Ngalula, is optimistic that the intra-regional-trade could hit $15 billion in 2023, thanks to the prevailing political goodwill.

In her New Year’s message, Ms Ngalula stated that the political goodwill shown by the leaders of the EAC partner nations was the reason why EAC intra-trade increased to over $10 billion in 2022, up from $9.5 billion in 2021, despite the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Last year, we saw greater political will on the part of the leaders of the EAC Partner States in promoting the expansion of intra-EAC commerce,” she said, adding that in 2023 business community is buoyant to achieve the $15 billion mark.

The political goodwill saw the elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) impeding intra-regional trade such as the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions and admission of the DRC Congo into the EAC, driving the intra-regional-trade surge.

The EAC fresh data shows that the intra-EAC trade, accounting for imports and exports in the seven EAC Partner States, grew from 13 percent in 2019 at a value of $7.1 billion to 15 percent in 2021 at a value of $9.5 billion. By September 2022, the EAC trade value was at $10.17 billion representing a 20 percent share of Intra-trade to global trade.

Official statistics indicate that the EAC’s total trade with the rest of the world stood at $62 billion in the period under review.

Ms Ngalula said the EABC will work with the head of the EAC Heads of State Summit this year to improve food security, strengthen the integration of regional supply chains, remove non-tariff barriers, restrictions on the free movement of services, double taxation, open skies, telecommunications, and infrastructure development to support business expansion across EAC borders. “A pre-heads of state summit consultation and presentation of memoranda of private sector policy priorities to the EAC Council of Ministers during the high-level summit on Common Market Protocol were among the EABC milestones achieved in 2022” the EABC chief explained.

Seven out of 10 EABC policy priorities were adopted in the Communique of the EAC Council of Ministers on Common Market Protocol. Yet another breakthrough was the adoption of 35 percent as the fourth band of the EAC Common External Tariff (CET) by the EAC Partner States.

Indeed, since July 1, 2022, imports of goods such as meat, furniture and textiles from non-EAC countries, have been attracting a tariff of 35 percent, Ms Ngalula said, stressing the idea behind this is to protect local production and spur regional industrialisation.

It is understood that CET is one of the key instruments under the Customs Union pillar, which justifies regional integration through uniform treatment of goods imported from third parties.

EABC in partnership with COMESA and SADC business councils has launched the African Tripartite Business Council to spearhead the inclusion of private sector proposals into the negotiations of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and the African Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).

EABC in partnership with the EAC organised a trade mission to the DRC Congo under the leadership of the EAC Secretary General, Dr Peter Mathuki. “It’s the EABC commitment to cement partnerships with the Federation of Enterprises of the Congo (FEC) to boost trade ties,” Ms Ngalula said.

In her final word, EABC chief was grateful to Coca-Cola Africa and Equity Bank Ltd, development partners such as Trademark East Africa (TMEA), German Development Cooperation led by GIZ- Support East African Market Driven and People-Centered Integration (SEAMPEC) project, Business Scouts for Development, Afreximbank and International Trade Centre (ITC) for being supportive to the regional business apex body.

The EABC is the regional apex body of Private Sector associations and corporates in the EAC with a single purpose of driving the regional integration process through trade and investment.

To achieve this EABC works with the public sector, East African Community (EAC) institutions, the academia, and the business community to unlock economic potential through increased physical access to markets, enhanced trade environment and improved business competitiveness.