Kenya Association of Manufucturers (KAM) yesterday held a meeting with members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Kenya Chapter. This was in a bid to review the issues that are hindering the smooth flow of the EAC integration process. You may not know this but KAM represented Kenya’s manufacturing sector’s 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. EAC has a harmonized customs legislation and procedures however so far there has been no uniformity among the partner states in applying the common law in the Customs Union Management.

With the launch of the of the Common Market Protocol in 2010, the manufacturing industry was optimistic that the EAC was really moving towards a single market for goods, services, labour, capital, common taxes and common trade laws. However, 6 years down the line there is a lot yet to be done. In as much as there are some milestones made, businesses in the region still experience frustrations while trading with each other. This has been attributed 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.

KAM Chief Executive, Ms. Phyllis Wakiaga had this to say, “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.

EALA has a mandate of legislation as well as budget approvals for the EAC so it is a very important institution in the development process in EAC. As such KAM is optimistic that the engagement will be key in creating an enabling environment for the manufacturing sector to expand and contribute to rapid economic growth in the region.

The meeting agreed to develop a clear engagement framework and to hold regular consultative forums that will enhance deeper collaboration. These platforms will provide for exchange of information and promotion of regional initiatives that would position industry to continue being the pillar of economic growth and development both in the medium and long term.