Posted by: africanpressorganization | 14 March 2012

Dedicated ministerial session on elimination of non tariff barriers underway in Mombasa, Kenya / Dedicated session follows visit to Dar and Mombasa Ports by the Ministers


 

Dedicated ministerial session on elimination of non tariff barriers underway in Mombasa, Kenya / Dedicated session follows visit to Dar and Mombasa Ports by the Ministers

 

ARUSHA, Tanzania, March 14, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A dedicated Ministerial session on elimination of non tariff barriers (NTBs) in the East African Community opened today at the Nyali International Beach Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya.

 

The Ministerial session follows the visit to the Ports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa by EAC Ministers on 12-13 March and the 6th Regional Forum on NTBs from 12-13 March, 2012 in Mombasa. The working visits to the Ports were premised on the fact that the two Ports have been indentified as one area where non tariff barrriers (NTBs) occur due to delays in clearing goods and congestion, among others.

 

Opening the Ministerial session, the Chair of the EAC Council of Ministers and Minister for East African Communigty of the Republic of Kenya, Hon. Musa Sirma told the delegates that the dedicated session was meant to resolve issues that had remained outstanding for quite a long time.

 

Hon. Sirma affirmed to the Ministers and delegates the commitment and personal concern of the Chair of the Summit of the EAC Heads of State, President Mwai Kibaki on the presence of NTBs and their impact on trade and free movement of people in the region.

 

He said the Ministerial deliberations will be handed over to the Chair of the Summit on Friday 16 March in Nairobi, Kenya and that his (Summit Chair) interest in the deliberations was a clear testimony of the importance that the Summit attaches to the promotion and sustenance of a vibrant regional market that is free from any impediments that may obstruct the seamless movement of goods among the EAC Partner States.

 

Hon. Sirma informed his colleagues that both the EAC Treaty and the Common Market Protocol were emphatic on the issue of NTBs and therefore there was no need of re-negotiating the two critical Community documents, which were already considered and signed by the Heads of State, by putting in place uncesessary barriers to trade and free movement of people.

 

“Let us not create positions which contradict those of the Heads of State who signed these documents, we need to avail cheap and affordable services to our people, ease their movements, create a homogeneous society within the EAC and no discrinimnation. This society must be cohesive and work together as one people with one destiny,” asserted the Minister.

 

The Secretary General of the East African Community Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera noted that the outcome of the Ministerial session on Non Tariff Barriers will be a key milestone in scaling up the elimination campaign on trade restrictive measures.

 

He said at the regional level, NTBs had continued to exert a negative influence on the integration and trade agenda.

“NTB’s have persisted or have merely mutated and your personal presence here is an indication of the commitment that we all share towards a functional and fully operational Common Market in conformity with the Treaty and Protocols that we have adopted as the pillars and compass of our integration,” noted Amb. Sezibera.

 

The Secretary General disclosed that the region’s collective efforts had led to investment and trade expansion within the EAC as intra-regional trade had expanded from US dollars 1617.1 million to US dollars 3800.7 million in 2010. Accompanying this trend were cross border investments which had also substantially grown in volume, targeting key sectors.

 

He said in order to maintain its global attractiveness as a trade and investment destination, there is need to further improve the EAC’s competitive edge, if it was to compete and trade directly at the intra and inter regional level and with the world’s most competitive economies.

The Secretary General reiterated that NTBs were reducing the gains from trade by restricting domestic market access to regional exporters, in addition to denying consumer’s welfare enhancing opportunities, which arise from access to reasonably priced regional imports. The NTBs therefore affect the capacity of the EAC countries to trade in the regional markets.

 

Amb. Sezibera indicated that a recent survey conducted in 19 countries in EAC, COMESA and SADC on the real impact of NTBs on intra-regional trade established that on average 20% of annual shipments faced some form of NTBs and the average direct additional cost of NTBs per shipment was US$3,500 – excluding bribes, while companies spent approximately US$145,000 per month on employees time and accommodation costs due to NTBs and delays. He noted that NTBs cut across industries and were the biggest restrictor to market access for companies.

 

The Secretary General disclosed that in the EAC the distribution of reported NTBs reflects a strong bias towards Customs and administrative entry procedures, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures and specific limitations such as import regulations.

 

He also disclosed that the EAC had commissioned a study that will come up with a more robust legally binding mechanism especially for chronic NTBs. The outcome of the study will enable the region to take bold and effective steps towards elimination of NTBs in the regional trading arena.

 

Apart from the Chair of the EAC Council of Ministers and Minister of East African Community, Hon Musa Sirma; other delegates from Kenya include Hon. Jefferson Kingi, Minister of Industrialization and Fisheries; Hon. Peter Munya, Assistant Minister for EAC, Kenya; the Minister for Trade Hon. Ali Mwakwere; and other senior government officials.

 

Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of EAC Affairs Rt. Hon. Eriya Kategaya is leading the Ugandan delegation comprising the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of State for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Frederick Ruhindi; State Minister for Trade and Cooperatives, Hon. David Wakikona; and State Minister for Transport, Hon. Dr. Stephen Chebrot and other government officials.

 

Burundi’s Minister responsible for EAC Affairs in the Office of the Presidency, Hon. Hafsa Mossi, Transport and Telecommunications Minister Hon. Bucumi Moise and Public Security Minister Hon. Nizigama Gabriel are also present, as are Rwanda’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Francois Kanimba; and the Rwanda Chamber of Commerce President, Mr. John Bosco Rusagara; Tanzania’s Minister of Transport, Hon. Eng. Omari Nundu, Deputy Minister for East African Cooperation Hon. Dr. Abdalla Juma Abdalla and Tanzanian Government officials.

 

Additional Notes to Editors

 

Under Article 13 of the Protocol on the Establishment of EAC Customs Union, each Partner State has agreed to remove, with immediate effect, all the existing non-tariff barriers to the importation into their respective territories of goods originating in the other Partner States and, thereafter, not impose any new non tariff barriers.

 

Furthermore Partner States agreed to formulate a mechanism for identifying and monitoring the removal of non-tariff barriers.

 

In this context, the EAC has included a discussion of NTB issues in nearly all EAC Council’s meetings; conducting studies: Establishing the EAC NTBs mechanism for the monitoring the elimination of non tariff barriers and launching it in all Partner states; establishing the institutions for removal of NTBs including national and regional monitoring mechanism; developing a time-bound NTBs programme which is constantly being updated; and developing an NTBs online reporting mechanism.

 

In addition NTBs are being discussed within the customs, infrastructure (axle load), standards, immigration and private sector meetings as part of the efforts to tackle the problem within relevant authorities.

 

The problems arising due to NTBs keep on re-occurring in different form and shapes. At times the EAC Secretariat solves them as they occur, while in some cases National Monitoring Committees (NMCs) handle them and yet in other cases they have to be brought to Regional Monitoring Committees (RMCs). In some cases bilateral solutions have been sought with the authorities of the countries concerned, with a view to their early and mutually satisfactory resolution.

 

In order to continuously assess NTB prevalence within the region, regular meetings of the NMCs have been convened. Issues, that are not resolved this way have been taken up for resolution through the relevant technical committees in many cases ending with the Council.

 

The online monitoring system makes it possible for any stakeholder to report on the NTBs they experience directly to the Secretariat. The online system is an Internet-based tool for use by stakeholders in the Partner States to report NTBs as well as monitor the processes of elimination and has been adopted by COMESA and SADC as well. The system also serves as a repository of all the reported NTBs, which are impeding businesses from capturing the benefits of regional integration.

 

SOURCE 

East African Community (EAC)


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