Kampala. The East African Community (EAC) has embarked on a new bid to remove barriers blamed for low intra-regional trade.
Under the initiative, about 200 experts from partner states would be trained on the best skills to fight trade bottlenecks in the region.
The East African Business Council (EABC), an apex body of private sector organisations, will spearhead the programme in collaboration with the International Trade Centre (ITC).
The four-year initiative took off in earnest in Arusha on Monday with the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the two organisations.
This was followed by the commencement of the first such training on trade facilitation for business associations and trade experts from the region.
“Trade barriers remain high in East Africa. The private sector has to work with the governments to address this”, lamented Peter Mathuki, the EABC executive director.
This, according to him, has been compounded by delays and red tape which hampered the movement of goods across borders. He said intra-EAC trade remained as low as 20 per cent due to what he described as unnecessary barriers, mostly non-tariff.
This, he said, contrasts sharply with intra-regional trade in other economic blocs such as the Sadc where intra-regional trade was 58 per cent.
Trade among the European Union (EU), which is funding the programme, currently stands at 68 per cent, he said.
The capacity building initiative will be implemented within the framework of the EU-EAC Market Access Upgrade Programme.
which was launched last year.
According to EABC, the partnership will support the improvement of capacity of the private sector and trade supporting institutions.