The East African - 23 July 2022
EAC common market scorecard falls short of expectations
Non-tariff barriers and unharmonised rules and regulations have been the biggest impediments to the full implementation of the 11-year-old Common Market Protocol, stifling trade between partners of the EAC.
Currently, trade between partners is at 20 percent, lower than the expectations of leaders at the time of the launch. EAC members are trading more with countries outside the bloc than partner states, becoming importers of products and services that ideally should be sourced among them.
The low level of trade is attributed to private sector demands, bureaucracy by civil servants in charge of the process and partner states’ failure to cede sovereignty over the free movement of goods and services.
At the just-ended high-level retreat for the EAC Summit held in Arusha from July 20-22, varying economic development among partner states was said to have contributed to the slow implementation of the protocol.
The retreat provided a way forward on the Common Market post-negotiations that have been pending. Its launch was supposed to collapse national tariffs and other non-tariff barriers and pave the way for a harmonised process.