The East African Community (EAC) is making strides in conforming to trading requirements under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). EAC has already begun plans to finalize the EAC Tariff Offer.

To kick off the Tariff offer, the EAC Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) has directed the EAC Secretariat to convene meetings with experts by 15th December, 2021. The EAC Tariff Offer currently stands at 85.86% against the AfCFTA modalities of 90%.

The Secretariat was further directed to revise the EAC Schedule of Specific Commitments on Trade in Services and review the Trade in services offers made by state and non-state parties for AfCFTA. The Secretariat is also required to undertake an assessment of the number of additional tariff lines that have been moved by each Partner State from the various categories.

Speaking at the meeting held in Arusha, Tanzania, EAC Secretary General, Hon. Dr. Peter Mathuki said, “Regional Economic Communities are major building blocs in the realisation of the AfCFTA. EAC is keen on implementing policies, decisions, and directives, to ease trading under the agreement set to widen integration and increase Intra-Africa trade.”

Under the agreement establishing the AfCFTA, tariffs on 90% of tariff lines are expected to be eliminated over 5 years for developing countries and 10 years for the least developed countries. The move gives the business community in the region a possibility of increasing economies of scale through access to cheaper raw materials and intermediate inputs.

On her part, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Trade and Industrialization, Ms. Betty Maina who is also the current chair of the Sectoral meeting decried the persistence of Non-tariff Barriers (NTBs) in the region.

“NTBs negate the vision of a common market and are a threat to both local and foreign investment in the region,” she said.