Kenya and Uganda need dialogue on trade crisis, says EABC


By Zephania Ubwani

Arusha. Business leaders in East Africa have called for an immediate end to the escalating trade blockade between Kenya and Uganda.
You want the two neighboring countries to sit together and resolve all open questions amicably, instead of constantly arguing.
“Retaliation is and should not be the ultimate solution,” said the East African Business Council (EABC), a top body of private sector associations based in Arusha. Dialogue should be an option as it was in the spirit of the Treaty establishing the East African Community (EAC).
A dispatch from the regional office made no mention of the ongoing saga of hundreds of trucks stranded on the Kenya-Uganda border. Drivers from Kenya in particular have complained that they could not enter Uganda because of Covid 19 vaccination fees and cumbersome clearance procedures.
However, the statement cited persistent non-tariff trade barriers (NTBs) as one of the factors that have negatively affected cross-border trade between the two countries. “The bilateral dialogue to eliminate all outstanding NTBs between Kenya and Uganda will boost trade,” added the message to The Citizen. Instead of escalating the disputes on both sides, the two countries should conduct a bilateral dialogue “in order to avoid a trade blockade and retaliatory measures”.
An ongoing stalemate, EABC claimed, would seriously impact intra-EAC trade, which is currently low at around 15 percent.
The trade figures within the six-country bloc fell because preferential market access for EAC originating products was denied.
New trade measures against retaliation will further reduce trade, affect employment, market access and economies of scale, particularly for the industrial sector in the region.
Persistent NTBs have not only increased transaction time and the cost of cross-border business, but also affected the competitiveness of products from the EAC block.
The EABC, which has observer status with the EAC, has identified two key factors that are critical to resolving stubborn and fungal NTBs.
One of these is the lack of an effective EAC dispute settlement mechanism by the once-proposed EAC Means of Trade Committee.
The other is the slow resolution of the identified trade barriers by the EAC Regional Monitoring Committee (RMC).
“This is evident from the recent meeting of the Sector Council for Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIF),” emphasized the economic panel.

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