THE East African Business Council (EABC) chairman Nicholas Nesbitt, EBS, OGW has called upon the EAC Partner states to bring down East African borders for trade to flourish.
Speaking at the EABC private sector pre- heads of state summit engagement organised with support from GIZ, Nesbitt said: « EAC partner states should fully operationalise the EAC single customs territory and adopt technology to transform our EAC region to be borderless for goods and services!»
The chief guest, Dr. Kevit Desai called for public-private dialogue and collective responsibility. He further said: « The expanding market, diversity of our people and the richness of our resources are key prospects for the economic growth and prosperity of our region. »
Dr. Kevit Desai urged the business leaders to analyze EAC protocols and intra-EAC trade hurdles that need presidential intervention to be resolved in a bid to reduce the cost of doing business in the region.
Dennis Karera, EABC vice-chair called for quick implementation of the directives by the EAC heads of state summit. Article 92 of the Treaty (Civil Aviation and Civil Air Transport) states that the EAC partner states are required to adopt common policies for the development of civil air transport in the Community in collaboration with other relevant international organisations.
Karera called for open skies in East Africa. He stated the EAC partner states should offer local treatment to airline companies in East Africa plus reduce and align the high landing and parking treatment to airline companies in East Africa plus reduce and align the high landing and parking fees.
EABC CEO John Bosco Kalisa said: « EAC committee on trade remedies committee should be quickly established to handle matters on rules of origin, dumping and disputes that stifled intra-EAC trade which is currently below 15 per cent. »
Dr. Samuel Nyantahe from the Confederation of Tanzania Industries elaborated that trust is central to the implementation and building consensus on EAC commitments and protocols.
On industrialization, Ms. Waturi Matu, TMEA senior private sector technical advisor to the EAC urged the private sector to join efforts and harmonize country position on the fourth band of the EAC
Common External Tariff to fast-track adoption by the EAC Partner States.
For his part, Mr. Rusagara, EABC board director recommended for the institutional review of the functions of the EAC secretariat via elevating its role from coordination to enforcement by transforming the EAC secretariat into a commission.
Ratification of the African continental free trade area by the Republic of South Sudan, Regional Local Content Policy, Adoption of EAC tourist visa, ratification of the EAC Agreement for the avoidance of double taxation, abolishment of work permit fees requirements for the East African citizens and the East African Standards Committee (EASC) to declare the standards, removal of telecommunication roaming charges and taxes and Adopt and implement mutual recognition of test and vaccination certificates through the EAC Pass are among the priorities planned to be presented to the EAC heads of state summit.
Juma Charles from South Sudan chambers of commerce industries and agriculture and Mr. Yowa Soso, chairman of south shippers council said presidential pronouncements are important to fast track the EAC regional integration agenda and commended President Salva Kiir for exempting East African citizens from visa requirements.
Edward Kitonga and Charles Omusana and from the EAC secretariat expounded that the EAC common market protocol is under review and the EAC-EABC technical working group has enabled closer dialogue between the private sector and the EAC secretariat.
The EABC Private Sector Pre- Heads of State Summit Engagement convened Industry Captains, Women in Business, CEOs of national & sectoral private sector associations, officials of the EAC Secretariat and Ministry of EAC Affairs who shared insights on the state of play of business and investment in the EAC bloc to inform the memoranda of private sector priorities to be presented to the EAC Council of Ministers and Heads of State Summit slated for this year.
Afterwards, an evening reception on International Women’s Day was held in recognition of the important role of women in social and economic development. The EABC Board appreciated Mrs. Mary Ngechu, Mrs. Emily Waita, Madame Amelie Ninganza and Waturi Matu for their deep commitment to promoting gender equity and equality and amplifying the voice of women in business and women cross border trades in the region.