The East African Community (EAC) private sector wants a speedy implementation of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, saying it will reduce bottlenecks in the movement of goods in transit across the borders.
Bujumbura – The East African Community (EAC) private sector wants a speedy implementation of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, saying it will reduce bottlenecks in the movement of goods in transit across the borders.
Speaking at the third regional annual meeting of Promoting Agriculture-Climate-Trade linkages in the East African Community (PACT-EAC), which was organised by CUTS International Geneva in Bujumbura last week, Dickson Poloji, a policy analyst at the East African Business Council (EABC), said business players should be sensitised on the agreement and its benefits, especially on the need for a regional trade facilitation committee in the EAC.
“The trade facilitation agreement is very crucial to us and good for the private sector. The EAC partner states are already implementing over 50 per cent of the agreement,” Poloji said.
All WTO members agreed to the Trade Facilitation Agreement during the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia in 2013. It sets out provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit and measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.
Once implemented, it would speed up the transit of goods to and from landlocked Least developing countries (LLDCs) like Uganda, and reduce the costs involved.
While addressing a UN conference on landlocked least developing countries in Vienna, Austria recently, the WTO secretary general, Roberto Azevedo, said LLDCs were vocal in negotiations on cutting red tape in customs and other border procedures during the Bali conference, and that their voices should be heard.
“Landlocked developing countries face some very specific challenges which can obstruct their integration into the global economy. This is not acceptable in the 21st century when we have the technology in transport and communications to eliminate distance as an economic issue,” Azevedo said.
In his key note address at the Bujumbura meeting, the chairman, CUTS International Geneva, Philippe Brusick, said the challenge the PCT-EAC project sought to address is formidable.
“Food insecurity, climate change and trade are a daily reality for a large number of people in this region and their adverse effects are becoming more obvious. However, addressing these challenges, will largely depend on whether the policies related to the three aspects are developed and implemented coherently or not,” he said.
Delegates at the Bujumbura meeting reviewed different linkages of climate change, food security and trade, and focused on coherence in policy and bevaviour responses at the national and regional levels.
The PACT-EAC was initiated by CUTS International Geneva in 2011 and is in the final year of implementation. Funded by the Swedish government, its overall objective is to contribute to formulation of holistic policies to combat climate change and food security challenges.
The project also aims to increase EAC’s ability to influence multilateral trade negotiations.