The The East African Business Council ( EAC) has issued a statement calling for bilateral dialogue to eliminate all outstanding Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) between Kenya and Uganda.
John Bosco Kaliisa, Executive Director of the council says in the statement: “Intra-East Africa trade is currently low at approximately 15% and this low figure is attributed due to the denials of preferential market to East African Community originating products.”
The paltry trade performance obtains in spite of Kenya and Uganda being signatory to the Customs Union Protocol that established the East Africa Community, and instead the two countries have continuously had bilateral trade disagreements.
Kenyan authorities this year imposed restrictions on the importation of poultry products from Uganda with an aim to protect its internal market which is contrary to the EAC protocols.
On Tuesday, December 14, 2021, the Uganda Poultry Farmers Association petitioned the Ministry of East Africa Community Affairs, pleading for its intervention in the continued ban on the importation of eggs by traders in Kenya.
The farmers in their petition demanded that the government engage Kenya to lift the ban.
But on receiving the petition the 1st Deputy Prime minister and of the East African Community Affairs Rebecca Kadaga Alitwala revealed that on Monday cabinet considered and recommended revengeful intervention to counter Kenya’s ban on Ugandan poultry products.
In their statement, the EABC notes that the Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) hinder the free movement of goods as enshrined in the EAC Customs Union and Common Market Protocols at the disadvantage of East African manufacturers and traders – importers & exporters from both countries.
East African Business Council on behalf of the East African community also asks the EAC Partner States to consider ratifying Article 24 (2) of the EAC Customs Union Protocol to pave way for the operationalization of the EAC Trade Remedies Committee.
EABC notes that it is this protocol that provides for the establishment of the EAC Trade Remedies Committee tasked to handle matters of Rules of Origin, antidumping measures, subsidies, and countervailing measures, safeguard measures, and Dispute Settlement Mechanism.
According to the statement, the Non-existence of the Committee on Trade Remedies makes it impossible for the EAC Council of Ministers to refer matters on the elimination of NTBs to the Committee as is provided for in the EAC Non- Tariff Barriers Act, 2017 (Article 12 (2), (3) and (4).
Kenya has since 2019 locked horns with Uganda over the ban on Ugandan sugar and milk maize, a breach of the Customs Union Protocol that established the East Africa Community single market, leading to a rise in the non-tariff barriers.
In line with the spirit of the Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community, the EABC has thus urged the Republic of Kenya and the Republic of Uganda to hold a bilateral dialogue to avoid a trade standoff and revenge due to the imposition of NTBs.
EABC believes that retaliation is not and should not be the ultimate solution but rather the two sisterly nations should sit together to resolve all outstanding issues amicably.