Regional Co-operation

COMESA Ministers Approve New Rules for Traders
Small-scale cross-border traders could see better fortunes after regional trade ministers approved a list of products to be incorporated into a new simplified trade regime. The approval by the ministers from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) clears the way for member countries to begin preparations for the implementation of the simplified trade regime (STR) that focuses on customs and rule of origin (RoO). The system aims to help traders to fully exploit the gains of integrated market systems.

A preview of the common list approved by the ministers for use under the new STR arrangement showed that agricultural product traders would be the biggest beneficiaries. The products on the list include beverage crops such as tea and coffee; maize, wheat and sorghum, cotton, sisal, fish and fish products as well as raw milk.

Kenyans Primed from Regional Market
The EAC Ministry is increasing its spending on research, staffing and public education to ensure that Kenyan businesses are able to make most of the opportunities served up by the expanded market in 2010. The region’s heads of state plan will sign a Common Market Protocol on November 20, 2009 which will remove most of the current official hurdles that stand in the way of business people gaining access to the regional market of 126 million people accounting for a combined wealth of US$60bn.

Surveys by pollsters indicate that the level of awareness of the regional integration process and opportunities it spawns is still very low among the ordinary EAC citizens almost ten years since trading bloc was revived in July 2000.

Kenya Warned of Trade Ban Risk in Reforms
Kenya risks being thrown out of a list of countries that will in 2010 trade with the US on concessionary terms contained in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Review of countries that qualify to benefit from AGOA as provided for in the pact is going on and exporters are worried that persistent friction over the pace of political reforms may draw the Obama administration’s attention to Kenya’s presence in the list posing the risk of it being struck out.

The AGOA Act authorises the US President to designate on an annual basis countries eligible to benefit from the pact. It says countries will qualify if they are identified as having established, or are making continual progress toward establishing market-based economies; the rule of law and political pluralism and are eliminating barriers to US trade and investment.

Presidents Sign Common Market Pact
Heads of State of the five EAC partners signed the protocol on the establishment of the East African Common Market. The act guarantees residents from Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi the right to work and live in any of the partner states subject to limitations imposed by the host on grounds of public policy, security and health. In accordance with the provisions of Articles 76 and 104 of the Treaty, the protocol provides for free movement of goods, persons and labour; the right of establishment and residence, apart from the free movement of services and capital.

According to Article 8 of the protocol, the partner states shall establish a common system of issuing national identification documents for their nationals. These shall be the basis for identifying the citizens of the partner states within the EAC. A partner state citizen who wishes to travel to another partner state shall use a valid common standard travel document.