REMARKS FOR THE EAC CHAIRPERSON DURING THE SIGNATURE OF THE COOPERATION AGREEMENT ON TRADE FACILITATION, SPS AND TBT 

26THFEBRUARY 2015, WASHINGTON D.C., USA

Your Excellency, Ambassador Michael Froman, United StatesTrade Representative,

Hon Ministers,

Ambassador, Dr. Richard Sezibera, EAC Secretary General,

Excellencies Ambassadors,

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen

I wish to thank Ambassador Froman for hosting this meeting and the warm welcome accorded to us.

I am very pleased to be here with my colleagues from the EAC Partner States and the U.S. Government for the signing of the Cooperation Agreement on Trade Facilitation, SPS and TBT.

The EAC and U.S have continued to strengthen the trade and investment relationship emanating from the time we signed the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in 2008 until currently under the Trade and Investment Partnership, which has been in place since June 2012.

The achievements made so far in this Partnership, include the signature of the Letter of Intent establishing the EAC – U.S Commercial Dialogue in October 2012 and now the signature of the Cooperation Agreement.

Today’s agreement builds on the successes we have already achieved in our integration process. Since 2005 the EAC region has witnessed the Customs Union get consolidated with greater confidence emerging from key stakeholders such as the economic operators in the region who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the integration efforts. At its heart, the Customs Union seeks to propel the growth of a larger EAC internal market, reduce administrative burdens on business and trade to create an environment attractive for inwards investment and for economic expansion and development.

The EAC Single Customs Territory currently has been operational since July 2014 with the aim for free circulation of goods and further reduction on the cost of doing business in the region.

The EAC Common Market that was launched in July 2010 aims at improving goods trade by bringing on board free movement of factors of production, services, right of establishment and right of residence. While the Common Market is already operational, the EAC has sequenced some elements involving the free movement of persons, labour, capital and services for implementation at varied degrees and speeds until 31st December 2015.

On 30th November 2013, the Protocol Establishing the EAC Monetary Union was signed by the EAC Heads of State with the aim of strengthening economic cooperation through the establishment of a single currency and related institutions within 10 years.

The on-going implementation of EAC Customs Union and Common Market has continued to boost intra-EAC trade. Trade among the EAC Partner States has more than doubled, increasing from US$ 1.6 billion in 2005 to US$ 5.8 billion in 2013. Total intra-regional exports increased from around US$500 million in 2000 to more than US$3.69 billion in 2013, a six-fold increase.

Tremendous efforts and reforms have been taken to facilitate trade in the region, including improving customs procedures, enforcement and modernization as well as technical standards and regulations.

Through this Cooperation Agreement, both the EAC and the U.S. will cooperate in the implementation of the WTO Agreements on Trade Facilitation, SPS and TBT. The EAC Partner States have been developing their national and regional action plans for the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. Together with the action plans on SPS and TBT that will be developed within 6 months of entry into force of this Agreement, the EAC believes that important benefits will be achieved through this cooperation.

In today’s signing, we are taking further steps towards the goal of improving regional/global competitiveness for faster and sustainable economic growth.

May our partnership continue to thrive and grow.

 

 

REMARKS FOR THE EAC SECRETARY GENERAL DURING THE SIGNATURE OF THE COOPERATION AGREEMENT ON TRADE FACILITATION, SPS AND TBT

26THFEBRUARY 2015, WASHINGTON D.C., USA

Your Excellency, Ambassador Michael Froman, United StatesTrade Representative,

Hon. Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers and Minister for East African Cooperation, United Republic of Tanznaia,

Hon Ministers,

Excellencies Ambassadors,

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen

I note with pleasure, the successful conclusion of the EAC – U.S. Cooperation Agreement on Trade Facilitation, SPS and TBT, which together with a robust commercial dialogue and continued trade capacity building, will contribute to a vibrant trading relationship that is mutually beneficial to both Parties.

This Agreement will enhance the EAC – U.S. cooperation on improving, simplifying and standardizing procedures and to increase transparency in the area of trade facilitation and standards.

The EAC has so far made impressive achievements in undertaking trade facilitation reforms to improve the ease with which goods are cleared through customs for purposes of both importation and exportation. For example, the Partner States have harmonized their customs procedures, undertakenelectronic submissions of documents, implementation of risk management systems for inspections, and are pilotingjoint border posts and joint customs controls thus speeding up clearance and transit arrangements.

Hence, the EAC Partner States recognize the importance of trade facilitation as a way of improving regional competitiveness. With the reduction of time incurred in the supply chain, the region could realize cost saving that can be channelled to other economic activities to alleviate poverty and spur economic growth. For example, the full operationalization of the one-stop border posts at our major boundary points would support efficient transactions in our Community by reducing clearance times by up to 40%.

With the implementation of the Single Customs Territory, goods are being cleared at the first point of entry and this has led to the reduction in the number of documentation and time taken to clear goods up to the destination countries. For example, it used to take 18 days for cargo to move form Mombasa to Kampala. This has now been reduced to 3 days. Clearance of goods from Mombasa to Kigali has been reduced from 22 days to 5 days.

The development of standards in Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) are also important factors in accessing markets. The EAC Partner States have been implementing the SQMT Act since 2006 and have recently adopted an SPS Protocol. In the area of SPS, we look forward to our cooperation with the U.S. with the aim of safeguarding human, animal and plant health or life, and in particular, establish and enhance the EAC Partner States’ capacity to implement and monitor SPS standards in accordance with international best practice.

To date, over one thousand standards have been harmonized to facilitate trade in the region. The Partner States also recognize the importance of easing technical barriers to trade as a way of improving regional competitiveness for the producers. Cooperation in this area is expected to, inter alia,support the development of necessary technical infrastructure and skills transfer to support technical regulations as well as promotethe greater use of international standards in technical regulations and conformity assessments.

Allow me therefore to conclude that the Agreement we are signing today affirms the strengthened trade and economic ties between the EAC and the U.S. with the aim of intensifying bilateral trade, as well as improving the conducive climate for business between United States and the EAC operators.

Thank you all for your kind attention.