COMESA to Rule on Kenya’s Export Disputes
Regional Cabinet ministers will deliver a final ruling on Kenya’s long-running trade disputes with their trading partners, as exporters exude confidence the decision will break the stalemate that has stunted growth. The council of ministers from 19 countries review progress in implementing the bloc’s programmes.
They are expected to receive and rule on the findings of the technical committees COMESA Secretariat appointed months ago to investigate claims of discriminatory practices against Kenyan goods in some member states. Most of these disputes erupted in 2010, starting with Zambia’s ban on long-life milk to protect her industries and her imposition of duty on palm-based cooking fats, saying Kenya does not grow palm tree.
Trade Facilitation Project Launched
A trade facilitation project aiming to deepen understanding and administration of trade rules for businesses in East Africa has been launched. The project is an initiative of the Uganda Allied Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, a breakaway group from the mainstream Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
The six-month project will involve workshops and training participants on trade rules for efficiency in the EAC. It will also target exporters, importers, business support organisations and revenue authorities, among others.
Government Losing in Informal Trade
At least two in every 10 Ugandan traders are involved in informal cross-border trade, data from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics indicates. Speaking at the launch of the women in Cross-border trade project in Kampala, Ben Naturinda, Deputy Executive Director, Uganda Export Promotions Board (UEPB), said the high rate of informal trade is a result of high taxes, low capacity operations and lack of organisation among traders.
The high incidence of informal trade between Uganda and her neighbours, including Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, continues to be a cause for concern for trade and industry.
Region-EU Trade Deal Risks Flopping
The long-awaited signing of a trade partnership between EAC member states and the EU could flop once again due to a lack of funds to initiate negotiations. Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in charge of the EAC Ministry, David Nalo, says that the secretariat lacks funds to convene member states ahead of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations. It is also emerging that EAC member states are unhappy with some clauses of the partnership, which they say will hinder them from freely trading with other partners.
Under this clause, the European Commission insists that, in the event EAC countries open up more trade under a FTA with major trading economies, (whom EC defines as countries whose share in total global trade is at least one percent), same benefits should be passed to the EU.