The Chairman of the East African Business Council Mr FAUSTIN BUNDU makes a compelling case for the private sector’s key contribution to the Community
The East African Community is one of the most progressive regional economic blocs in the world today. EAC this year successfully transited to a fully-fledged Customs Union and is on course to begin implementing the Common Market in July 2010.
The deepened integration presents immense opportunities for the business community, in terms of larger markets, economies of scale and larger pools of human, financial, and physical capital. As the private sector, we are committed to continue playing our rightful role in the integration process, through increased trade and investment, enhanced competitiveness and increased employment, thereby accelerating the region’s economic growth.
As members of the business community in East Africa, through our umbrella organisation — the East African Business Council — we have actively participated in all stages of integration.
The private sector continues to enjoy unique interactive meetings with our Heads of States, other policy makers, as well as with the leadership of the EAC Secretariat, on how best our region can achieve competitive advantage and businesses can achieve returns on their investment.
This willingness to partner with the private sector in addressing challenges impeding the full realisation of the economic integration is a clear reflection of the resolve and commitment of the East African top political leadership to place the private sector at the heart of the EAC integration process.
The EAC Customs Union has opened up business opportunities in the region and has paved way for an improved business climate although challenges remain. It has generated a liberalised cross-border trade, through the adoption of common policies to minimise Customs clearance formalities as well as enhance the predictability of economic policies.
Since its inception, EABC has been very active in resolving impediments to the proper functioning of the Customs Union. One of our biggest undertakings has been the elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers to trade. EABC has been championing this issue and, in recognition of this, in 2005, EAC mandated us to develop the NTBs Monitoring Mechanism for reporting and elimination of NTBs.
In addition, EABC carries an annual Business Climate Index to monitor the progress in removal of NTBs and look at improvement in perception on key business climate factors such as access to land, level of taxation and the legal and regulatory framework, among others.
Our other contributions, in the context of the Customs Union, include channeling of general policy issues to the EAC Summit and addressing the issues pertaining to rules of origin and double taxation.
Our efforts continue in tandem with the needed policies and initiatives to ensure smooth progress towards full implementation of the regional integration instruments. However, challenges remain which include lack of structured engagement with policymakers at a regional level, frequent policy reversals, infrastructure bottlenecks and non-tariff barriers that increase the cost of doing business.
We continue to engage the EAC leadership in an effort to address some of these challenges and our expectation is that the EAC Heads of State will indicate their commitment to addressing these issues both in the short and long term
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