African Trade Ministers approve Free Trade Area in Kigali Summit

Ministers meeting in Kigali

The East African Community member countries have been asked on to increase intra-regional trade so as to support the industrialisation agenda of the region.

According to statistics from the World Bank, Africa’s share of global trade was at 2% three years ago and has gone down further by a percentage point.


This means that the rest of Africa is growing its share in global market while Africa is not. This is backed by reports that the amount of trade Africa does within itself compared to other regions is low at 11%.


Ali Mufuriki, a businessman and board chairman of Trademark East Africa, said Europe is at 60%, Asia has 60% and yet these do not have a free trade area.


He made the remarks during the opening of the East Africa Trade and Development Forum recently. The event was organised by the trade ministry with support from Trademark East Africa.


The two-day forum was aimed at creating a platform for partners and stakeholders in trade development to review, reflect and exchange ideas on the progress of TradeMark East Africa and its partners.


Mufuruki said for the region to achieve its industrialisation potential, there is need for member states to focus on the production of high value goods. People should be empowered with skills that will enable them work, own and drive the industries, which will in turn create jobs.


He noted that EAC regional trade may not grow if cross border trade is one sided. Mufuruki cited the example of trucks taking goods from say Kenya to Uganda return empty instead of returning with some imports from Uganda to sell back home.


“East African trade volumes will not grow when trucks only take goods from one country to another and return with empty containers. We would like to focus on that going forward in the second phase of our operations, to grow a Pan African Market,” he said.


Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, the secretary general of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, said for the above to be realised, EAC governments have to increase investments in trade infrastructure.


The Vice-President, Edward Ssekandi, hailed development partners for tackling non-tariff barriers that have been hindering Uganda’s competitiveness.


He said the forum will provide an opportunity for TradeMark East Africa to showcase key milestones achieved over the last seven years and highlight the plans for the new six year strategy of 2018/2020.


Ssekandi added that efforts by development partners will be supported by the EAC heads of state resolution  to upgraded over 7000 kilometer roads across the region by the year 2025.


Source: TradeMark East Africa