The business community in Uganda will be among the beneficiaries of a tripartite Act in the offing that will facilitate free movement in the East and Southern African region.
A group of experts from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) have begun working towards facilitating this provision.
While addressing delegates at the annual International Freight Forwards Association (FIATA) conference in Zimbabwe recently, Ms Helen Kenani, a Comesa trade expert, said: “The movement of business persons has remained a major hindrance to free flow of inter/ intra regional trade.”
Free movement of business people is also a key provision in the negotiations for a Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).
The conference was hosted by the Shipping and Forwarding Agents of Zimbabwe, and the Regional African and the Middle East (RAME), who invited Comesa to brief the delegates on the Regional Economic Communities’ (RECs) initiatives to address Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and the Tripartite Free Trade Area negotiations.
In her presentation, Ms Kenani said RECs formed an important stakeholders and presented big business opportunities for freight forwarders given the imminent increase in intra and extra-Tripartite trade.
“As the TFTA deepens, it is expected that it would spur both Foreign Direct Investments as well as regional cross-border investments as currently being witnessed in the Comesa integration process,” Ms Kenani said.
The delegates noted that important stakeholders in the region were not aware of the efforts being made to fast track the reporting and subsequent resolution of NTBs specifically the Tripartite on-line based mechanism.
An incident that underscored the critical need to address the NTBs was cited whereby a past president of the RAME, Africa Chapter, was prevented from proceeding to the same conference. He was detained in one of the regional airports and then finally sent back to his country for not having a transit visa.
“The participants were keen as details of the mechanisms for reporting NTBs were provided that ranged from accessing the internet, reporting as well as easy access to National Focal Points of a given Tripartite country as well as REC focal points for assistance”, Ms Kenani said.