The East African Business Council (EABC) has called for bilateral dialogue to eliminate all outstanding non-tariff barriers (NTBs) between Kenya and Uganda in a bid to boost trade.

The EABC has urged the Kenyan and Ugandan governments to hold a bilateral dialogue to avoid a trade stalemate and retaliation due to the imposition of NTBs. The Council added that retaliation is not the ultimate solution but rather the two sisterly nations should sit together to resolve all outstanding issues amicably.

Currently, intra-EAC trade is lower than expected, at approximately 15%. This is attributed to the denials of preferential market access to EAC originating products and new trade measures on retaliation will reduce trade further, affect employment, market access, economies of scale of industries and the well being of East African residents.

Additionally, the EABC has identified key issues that are critical in resolving persistent and mushrooming NTBs. These are the absence of an effective EAC trade dispute settlement mechanism and the slow pace of resolution of NTBs by the EAC Reginal Monitoring Committee (RMC).

The following are the recommendations made by the EABC

1. All EAC partner states to eliminate all sorts of barriers imposed on goods and services produced from within the EAC bloc as NTBs hinder the free movement of goods as enshrined in the EAC Customs Union and Common Market Protocols at the detriment of East African manufacturers and traders, importers and exporters from both countries.

2. EAC Partner States to ratify Article 24 (2) of the EAC Customs Union Protocol to pave way for the operationalization of the EAC Trade Remedies Committee.

3. The EABC cautions on retaliation by imposing NTBs as it set back the progress and gains made in terms of Intra-EAC trade, Elimination of current trade barriers and reduces investors’ confidence and predictability of the business environment in the EAC bloc.

4. The EABC urges for the quick convening of the bilateral public-private dialogue between Kenya and Uganda to find win-win lasting solutions on the elimination of NTBs to boost trade, economic growth and jobs for the prosperity of all East African citizens.