EAC bloc inches closer to finalizing AfCFTA Tariff offers

The East African Community (EAC) is making strides in conforming to trading requirements under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), with plans underway to finalize the EAC Tariff Offer.

The EAC Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) has directed the EAC Secretariat to convene meetings with experts, by 15th December 2021, to finalize the EAC Tariff Offer.

The EAC Tariff Offer currently stands at 85.86% against the AfCFTA modalities of 90%. The Secretariat was also directed to revise the EAC Schedule of Specific Commitments on Trade in Services and review the Trade in services offers made by State and Non-State Parties for the AfCFTA.

Further, the EAC Secretariat was directed to undertake an assessment of the number of additional tariff lines that have been moved by each Partner State from the various categories.

Speaking during the meeting held at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, EAC Secretary General, Hon. Dr. Peter Mathuki said that a lot needs to be done to kick off trading under the agreement.

“Regional Economic Communities are major building blocs in the realisation of the AfCFTA. EAC is keen on implementing policies, decisions, and directives, to ease trading under the agreement set to widen integration and increase Intra-Africa trade” he said.

African countries began officially trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on January 1st, 2021 in a pact connecting 1.3 billion people across Africa with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion.

Under the agreement establishing the AfCFTA, tariffs on 90% of tariff lines are expected to be eliminated over a period of five-years for developing countries while it is expected to take 10 years for least developed countries.

The move gives the business community in the region a possibility of increasing economies of scale through access to cheaper raw materials and intermediate inputs.

Further, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Trade and Industrialization, Ms. Betty Maina who is also the current chair of the Sectoral meeting decried the persistence of Non-tariff Barriers (NTBs) in the region.

“NTBs negate the vision of a common market and are a threat to both local and foreign investment in the region,” she said. Ms Maina called for continuous engagements among Partner States through existing Regional and bilateral mechanisms for NTB resolution.

The Council was informed that as at October 2021, 12 NTBs remained outstanding at different levels of resolution while 232 NTBs have been cumulatively resolved since 2007.