The Secretary-General of East Africa Community (EAC) has lauded the Community’s Customs Union which he says has registered a number of successes including application of a common Customs law, operationalization of the Single Customs Territory (SCT), the establishment of One-Stop Border Posts (OSBPs), the Authorized Economic Operator Programme and interconnectivity of the Customs business systems.
Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko says the SCT has reduced the turnaround time and tremendously cut down the cost of moving goods in the region.
The OSBPs have also improved the services offered at our borders saying the bottom-line of the Customs Union is more and more improvement on facilitating trade and the movement of people.
“Allow me to humbly acknowledge the leadership of the Heads of State in reforming the Customs and trade environment in the region.
“It is in the public domain that the Heads of State have personally presided over the launching of One-Stop Border Posts in the region.
“This demonstrates the commitment their Excellences have put to not only regional integration but also to changing the way we trade among ourselves as East Africans,” says Amb. Mfumukeko.
At the Continental level, Mfumukeko opines that progress has been recorded towards realization of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA). Three EAC Partner States have now ratified the Agreement, which was launched in June 2015.
He has urged the remaining Partner States to also ratify the Agreement in accordance with the timelines that have been agreed upon so as to enable all the EAC Partner States maximize on the opportunities offered by the Tripartite Free Trade Area.
With regard to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the agreement was entered into force on 30th May 2019 and its operational phase was launched by AU Heads of State and Government on 7th July 2019 in Niamey, Niger.
As at mid-July, 2019, 54 AU Member States had signed the AfCFTA agreement while 27 have ratified including three EAC Partner States namely Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
Under the Common Market Protocol, Mfumukeko says East Africans can move in the Partner States with the use of simplified travel documents.
The travel documents are easily processed and issued at the borders.
In the Northern Corridor, there is the use of standardized National IDs across borders.
Furthermore, students are allowed visa-free to enable them to attend training within the Partner States.
Partner States have started issuance of the East African – e-Passport as was directed by the 17th Ordinary Summit. The EA–e-Passport is a modern document, accepted worldwide with more enhanced security features.
On the Monetary Union Pillar where the Act for the establishment of the East African Monetary Institute is in force while the East African Community Statistics Bureau Bill, 2018 is awaiting assent by the Heads of State.
With regard to the Political Federation Pillar, the Community has, in the short run, opted for a political confederation and the necessary instruments to realize this aspiration are being prepared.
BY ALEXANDER MWANGI