TradeMark allocates Sh1bn in plans to cut business costs

TradeMark East Africa has allocated Sh1.02 billion for the implementation of a WTO-backed trade improvement programme for the East African Community partner states.

The World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO FTA) focuses on ways of transporting, releasing and clearing goods and compels countries to ensure that trade concerns including taxes, documentation procedures along their transport corridors and ports are completely abolished.

The pact is expected to reduce the cost of doing business and complement current efforts of eradicating trade barriers in the region.

The agreement was arrived at during the 2013 WTO ministerial conference in Bali, Indonesia, where various decisions — aimed at making trade among the agency’s member states easy — were made. The decisions will also ensure food security and boost trade and overall development.

“We have set aside Sh1.02 billion ($10 million) to go towards various projects that will help in implementation of the agreement which is meant to facilitate trade among East Africa partner states,” said TradeMark East Africa chief executive Frank Matsaert.

Matsaert revealed the figure stating that there was a need for countries to work together in getting rid of barriers that negatively affected trade in the region.

Implementation of the agreement is expected to start before the 10th WTO Ministerial conference in mid-December in Nairobi. The conference takes place every two years and brings together member countries and custom unions. Members make decision by consensus.

It is expected that the cost of doing business between the EAC member states and other markets would reduce by almost 14.5 per cent upon the implementation of the agreement.

Besides the East Africa will be in a position to access international markets for their products.

According to the WTO, the agreement will cut bureaucracy by half and barriers that hamper global supply chains thus expanding the world economy by 4.5 per cent (Sh102.3 trillion).

Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Morocco, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Senegal and Tunisia are the African countries that have committed to the implementation of the agreement.