Customs Union management a hindrance to fast EAC integration

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has raised concerns over the lack of uniformity among East African Community (EAC) partner states in applying the common law in the Customs Union Management affirming that it is hindrance to fast regional integration.

At a meeting held today with members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Kenya Chapter to review pertinent issues that are hindering the smooth flow of the EAC integration process, KAM said that failure to comply with the laid down rules, timelines and procedures will not yield the intended integration process. At the backdrop of the concern is the fact that EAC has harmonized customs legislation and procedures.

Addressing the meeting KAM Chief Executive, Ms. Phyllis Wakiaga said

“Industry has been identified as the engine of economic growth among member states and in East Africa. It is therefore important to have enabling business environment and policies in EAC which will nurture the existing investments and attract new investments, create jobs and bring prosperity for East African people.”

When the Common Market Protocol was launched in July 2010, the industry was optimistic that the EAC has now entered a very important stage of the EAC integration and was really moving towards a single market for goods, services, labour and capital, common taxes and common trade laws.

With now over 11 years since implementation of the Customs Union and 6 years since the Protocol on Common Market was launched a lot is still wanting, the manufacturers association noted. They however underscored that there has been some milestones, businesses in the region have and still witness a number of frustrations while trading with each other. This is mainly due to lack of honoring the agreed Protocols like rules of origin, Standardization, Quality Assurance, Metrology and Testing (SQMT) Act, Sanitary and Phytosanitary  (SPS) protocol and non-tariff barriers imposed by various regulatory authorities from various Partner States.

Echoing her sentiments Hon. Nancy  Abisai, Chairperson, EALA Kenya Chapter called on the Government of Kenya to champion engagement at the EAC level while remaining cognisant of Kenya’s industrialisation agenda.

“Kenya needs to be at the forefront and aggressively lobby for policies that will support the Kenyan industry inasmuch as this will be done in the context of the spirit of integration.”

KAM represented Kenya’s manufacturing sector interests during the negotiations of the EAC Customs Union Protocol in 2002 and witnessed the commencement of the implementation of the Customs Union Protocol from 1st January 2005 to December 2009.

The meeting agreed to develop a clear engagement framework and to hold regular consultative forums  that will enhance deeper collaboration.


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