EAC registers trade surplus with UK despite Covid-19

Monday November 22 2021
EAC pic

UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Tanzania Mr. John Lord Walney (left) posing for a photo with the EAC Secretary General, Dr Peter Mathuki at the regional bloc HQ in Arusha. PHOTO | COURTESY

By Zephania Ubwani

Arusha. Despite the devastating impact of Covid-19 pandemic last year, the East African Community (EAC) bloc recorded a rare trade surplus with the United Kingdom (UK).

While the EAC imported goods worth $503.5million in 2020, it exported goods valued at $523.9 million to the UK, one of Europe’s largest economies.

Exports from the six nation EAC bloc increased by 14 percent last year from $458million in 2019, according to the East African Business Council (EABC).

This was revealed here on Friday during the visit to the apex body of private sector associations’ offices by the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Tanzania Mr. John Lord Walney.

He said at the EABC offices that the UK was committed to revitalize aid for trade relationships with the EAC bloc “as the region has vast endowments and opportunities”.

He commended the business captains in their relentless efforts to break the notorious trade barriers that could minimize the cost of doing business.

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Lord Walney pledged to steer dialogue between the UK businesses and the EABC “for mutual trade and investment businesses”.

He applauded the EABC for establishing a Women-in-Business platform, saying the platform has addressed the concerns of women traders, notably those involved in cross border business.

On his part, the EABC executive director John Bosco Kalisa urged the EAC to expedite the negotiations on economic partnership agreement with negotiations for the bloc’s economic partnership agreement with the UK.

The collective trade agreement between the two sides, he explained, will enable the two partners to avoid trade uncertainty and disruption. He stressed the need for more EAC-UK public-private dialogue and fora to promote trade and investments between the EAC bloc and the UK.

In his presentation, Mr Adrian Njau, EABC Trade and Policy Advisor said EAC partner states ought to prefer Bilateral Trade Agreement (EPA) with the UK “ as the Everything But Arm (EBA) is on a concessional basis and a one-sided Agreement which can be suspended.”

He proposed that the UK’s Post Brexit Trade Deals with African Countries and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) should allow Cumulation.

This would enable African contracting parties to use originating products/inputs from other African countries to manufacture products to be exported to the UK under preferential arrangements.

Mr Njau said this would enhance the African integration agenda and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.