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Rugunda decries low intra-African trade

By Joyce Namutebi

Added 27th March 2018 10:06 AM

Rugunda called for concerted efforts between African governments and the private sector to enable the continent attain its development objectives.

Rugunda decries low intra-African trade

Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda. Photo/File

Rugunda called for concerted efforts between African governments and the private sector to enable the continent attain its development objectives.

THE Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has expressed concern that Intra-African trade is extremely low and currently accounts for only 10% of all commerce on the continent.

Rugunda called for concerted efforts between African governments and the private sector to enable the continent attain its development objectives.

He said that doing business as blocs was increasingly becoming the norm as evidenced by the signing of the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) by the leaders of 44 African countries earlier this week in Kigali, Rwanda.

He noted that the CFTA, which will come into force within six months, would increase prosperity for 1.2 billion Africans, adding that it was a true learning experience for businesses across the globe.

The Prime Minister was speaking during the official opening session of the East African Business Council (EABC) 20th anniversary celebrations in Nairobi, Kenya. The PM represented President Yoweri Museveni at the event, according to a press release from Arusha dated March 23, 2018.

Rugunda hailed EABC for striving to see to it that regional integration process is achieved with meaning and tangible results for the citizens of the East African Community (EAC).

"Since the inception of the EABC, there has been progress towards achieving the integration process through trade and policy reviews, tax harmonization, discussions on the Northern Corridor, stakeholder engagements to improve the free movement of goods and services within the region," he said.

He noted that the region still faces many challenges along the route to full integration including the need for full harmonization of policies and laws.

"This is a process that is taking time for all Partner States but a lot of progress has been made in this direction. We have to keep the momentum," he said.

In his remarks, Kenya's Minister for Cooperatives, Trade and Industry, Adan Mohammed, who represented President Uhuru Kenyatta, said that the private sector in East Africa had also contributed to the challenges to intra-regional trade including non-tariff barriers to trade.

Mohammed said that the private sector had brought about NTBs by pushing their respective home governments to push for national interests as opposed to the regional integration agenda for the sake of preserving their markets.

He described the EAC as the most integrated regional economic bloc in terms of trade and infrastructure development, adding that the Community needs to stick together when negotiating trade agreements with other regional economic communities because there is strength in numbers.

Kenya's Minister for EAC and Northern Corridor Development, Peter Munya, said the region faced a challenge in the implementation of agreed protocols.

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