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EABC urges talks on Kenya-Uganda tiff

The East African Business Council (EABC) has called on Kenya and Uganda to end their disputes over trade barriers.
The apex body of private sector associations and corporates says it is through dialogue that the outstanding non-tariff barriers (NTBs) can be eliminated.

“Bilateral dialogue would eliminate all the trade barriers between the two countries and boost trade”, the regional business body said in a statement. Recently the two founder members of the East African Community (EAC) have been in heated exchanges over what appeared to be trade disputes.

Although the accusations and counter-accusations were mainly centred on specific commodities, they have extended to retaliatory acts that could paralyse normal bilateral trade.

The statement – a copy of which was availed to The Citizen – was issued by John-Bosco Kalisa, the EABC executive director who implored the two EAC member countries to resolve business disputes amicably.

“Retaliation is not and should not be the ultimate solution but rather the two sisterly countries should sit down together to resolve all outstanding issues.

Mr Kalisa said that, with intra-EAC trade currently at 15 percent low, there should be no room to entertain business disputes in the bloc at the expense of enhanced trade.

“This low figure (15 percent) is attributed to the denials of preferential market access to the EAC originating products,” he pointed out.

He said retaliatory trade barriers would not only reduce cross border business between Kenya and Uganda but also impact intra-EAC trade, stifling employment and industrial development.

The EABC boss also reiterated that persistent NTBs raised the cost of doing business, undermining the competitiveness of goods originating from the EAC region.

He, however, attributed difficulties in resolving persistent and mushrooming NTBs to  the absence of an effective EAC trade dispute settlement mechanism such as the proposed EAC Trade Remedies Committee.

Other factors are the slow pace of resolution of NTBs by the EAC Regional Monitoring Committee (RMC).


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