For trade to work in East Africa, reforms are a must

July 13, 2014

The growing number of trade delegations arriving in East African region reflects the growing stature of the region on the global economic stage. As their economies expands, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi are highly regarded as a trading partner.This is a positive trend for the region and the economies. The more they trades with the world, the faster their economies will grow and the better the lives of its people will be. Trade has been a great creator of wealth through the centuries and remains so. The latest trade delegation to call on East African shores is from Asia.  A group of hundreds of people, representing businesses ranging from energy to machinery, are in the region to promote trade and looking to do business with Ugandan, Kenyans and Tanzanian companies.According to data from the regional body, bilateral trade between the East African countries and Asian counterparts are worth billions of dollars.

Last year, Chinese companies signed joint ventures worth millions of dollars for the construction of various factories in East Africa ranking from agriculture to producing electronic goods. These are tentative first steps toward developing closer economic and trade ties between the two traditional trading partners. While Asian companies seek new opportunities, East African companies too must explore new markets in Asia as they have done with Europe. Asia, with its population of there billion people, offers a significant consumer market and a diversified economy for East African companies seeking potential investment destinations. But if trade is to grow, both sides need to lower tariffs and encourage greater investment flows. In this regard, talks between East African Countries and the European Union for a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement need to be accelerated and concluded before the October this year deadline.Hopefully the agreement, once signed, will speed up bureaucratic reforms in wider East African region and make it less arduous for foreign companies to operate in the country.Lowering trade barriers is essential for continued economic growth in the East African Community countries.

Contador Harrison