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

Posted on May 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Trade has been a great creator of wealth through the centuries and remains so. The growing number of trade delegations arriving in Eastern part of Africa reflects the growing stature of the region’s on the global economic stage. As its economy expands, East Africa is nowadays highly regarded as a trading partner for developed countries mainly European Union and United States of America. Asian giants like China and India have not been left behind. This is a positive trend for the continent and the economy. The more it trades with the world, the faster its 54 countries economies will grow and the better the lives of its 1 Billion people will be.

Delegates representing businesses ranging from energy to machinery, are traveling to the five member states of East Africa to promote trade and looking to do business with competent East African companies. According to data from the East African Community headquarters in Tanzanian city of Arusha, bilateral trade among the bloc’s countries is expected to grow threefold in the next two years. There are tentative steps towards developing closer economic and trade ties between the five nations. That arrangement has become a magnet for would be investors eyeing sub Saharan African markets. While foreign companies are seeking new opportunities in the eastern part of Africa, companies in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi too must explore new markets in Europe, Asia, other parts of Africa and Middle East.

East Africa, with its population of over 130 million people, offers a significant consumer market and a diversified economy for foreign companies seeking potential investment destinations. However, as an investor and interested party in the region, for trade to grow, the regional member states need to lower tariffs and encourage greater investment flows. In this regard, talks between East African Community member states and the European Union for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement need to be accelerated and concluded soonest. I hope the agreement, once signed, will speed up bureaucratic reforms in the region and make it less arduous for foreign companies to operate in the five countries. I also think lowering trade barriers could be essential for continued economic growth.

Contador Harrison