The Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) has said the non-tariff barrier policy among the East African Community (EAC) states is being implemented discriminatively, thus hindering harmonisation of business among member states.
Recently, EAC states ratified the 2004 Community Customs Union and the 2009 Common Market protocols to provide for the free movement of labour and goods within the region to spur trade liberalisation and development.
Despite this, however, UMA Advisory Council chairperson Abid Alam said some member states are challenging the effective facilitation of business communities across borders. He said some EAC countries block certain products from other countries without giving clear reasons.
“They are some countries of the East African Community which consider themselves stronger than the others. They resist and block certain products from entering their markets; they can least import these products from other countries outside the EAC bloc,” said Mr Alam during the opening of the 6th UMA western region trade fair at Kakyeeka Stadium in Mbarara last Friday.
He added while Uganda allows products from other EAC countries to enter freely, some Ugandan products are at times blocked from entering some of the member countries.
Mr Alam said if this is not solved, trade relations between member states will be affected.
State minister for Fisheries Ruth Nankabirwa, who represented Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, pledged to forward the manufacturers’ concerns to relevant authorities.
The trade fair attracted more than 600 exhibitors from across the East Africa countries.
The East African Business Council also recently expressed concern that the continued imposing of non-tariff barriers by the East African Community member states is limiting the growth of the private sector and slowing down integration. The EABC chairman, Vimal Shah, said the spirit of individualism among member states not only hampers foreign direct investments, but also disables the growth of businesses in the region.