THE East African Business Council (EABC) has launched its new Secretariat Office at Mafao House, with a 2019 theme; ‘Improving Competitiveness, Investment and Intra EAC Trade’.
In his speech during the launch, EABC Chairman, Mr Nick Nesbitt, said that EABC is committed to maintaining the momentum of EAC as the fastest growing regional economic community by repositioning itself as a key anchor in the African Continental Free Trade Area.
He said that 2019 is the year of greatness for the Council as it has rebranded and relocated to the new corporate environment much closer to the East African Community (EAC) Headquarters, as one of the steps to reposition itself to undertake mandate as the voice and advocacy platform for the private sector in East Africa as well as the focal point for private sector engagement with the EAC.
“There is a lot of optimism in the EAC regional integration agenda as the East African Community was ranked as the fastest growing Regional Economic bloc in the continent by the World Bank in 2018. Indeed this is due to the continued partnership between the private sector and the government,” he said.
The chairman unveiled that while in 2004 the intra EAC trade was $1.342bn and the EAC exports amounted to $4.182bn, it was commendable to see that EAC Intra-trade has increased to $5.3bn while its exports were on $14.7bn in 2017, according to the EAC Trade and Investment Reports.
“It is necessary that all partner states make it easier to do business in the EAC as well as provide friendlier environment for attracting Cross Border and Foreign Direct Investments to support the region acquire more capital, technology transfer, increased productivity and this will definitely augment the EAC region’s competitiveness and increase innovation,” said Mr Nesbitt.
He mentioned some of EABC achievements in its 21 years of existence as establishment of a mechanism to monitor and report Non Trade Barriers (NTBs) in EAC; addressing numerous NTBs and enactment of EAC Elimination of NTBs Act; establishment and implementation of EAC Consultative Dialogue Forum and launching of the East African Code of Conduct for Business.
He mentioned others as harmonisation of more than 150 EAC standards; undertaking annual Common External Tariff Reviews on selected products; advocate for harmonisation of work and permits as well as reduction on fees; Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) for architects, engineers and accountants. EABC has held private sector – academia dialogues, collaborated with foreign Business Associations for Business to Business and Investment Promotion in the region.
Mr Nesbitt noted that the EAC economic growth is estimated to have reached 6.1 per cent in 2019 and according to the 2017 Global Competitiveness Rankings, most EAC partner states improved their competitiveness rankings.