EDITORIAL: Goods quality crucial as intra-EAC trade grows

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

Summary

  • To guarantee Tanzania benefits from the $3.4 trillion AfCTA market, the government must implement practical policies and guidelines.

The East African Business Council (EABC) is optimistic about greater trade among East African Community (EAC) member nations, thanks to the bloc’s leaders’ political goodwill.

The intra-EAC trade value is now somewhat more than $10 billion, up from $9.5 billion in 2021. The trend is positive, and the EABC anticipates reaching an ambitious $15 billion target in 2023. Protectionism and unwarranted trade disputes hindered the EAC’s intra-trade, but after several obstacles to the region’s trade were removed, there is now finally light at the end of the tunnel.

The elimination of non-tariff barriers, relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions, and entrance of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the EAC bloc have given the EAC intra-trade a fresh lease on life.

The bloc’s new development is great, but the focus should now move to the quality of goods that the seven-member community will trade. This is only the beginning of a far more integrated and affluent East Africa, which currently has a population of over 474 million people.

Small victories, however, should not encourage East Africans to celebrate their success because, according to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, Africa represents a broader market to focus on. Tanzania joined the almost 50 nations that have so far approved the AfCTA protocol after much deliberation and hesitation. Even though there may soon be competition from nations with larger economies, the news is still positive.

Our country should look beyond the EAC region when choosing the kinds and quantities of commodities to export to the 1.3 billion-strong African economic union.

To guarantee Tanzania benefits from the $3.4 trillion AfCTA market, the government must implement practical policies and guidelines.

The administration deserves praise for working on the new National Quality Policy, which will make sure Tanzania becomes competitive in all of the blocs to which it belongs.

Although the pact’s ratification was a significant step, it will take arduous work to endure and prosper in a market where certain nations already have an advantage.