Virus emerging as a key non-tariff barrier within EAC, business leaders warn

By Noel Wandera
Friday, January 22nd, 2021
Nick Nesbitt, East African Business Council chair. Photo/PD/ALICE MBURU
In summary

The Coronavirus pandemic is emerging as a key non-tariff barrier (NTB) within the East African Community (EAC) trading block, even as partner states drag their feet to harmonise their health protocols.

East African Business Council (EABC), the regional apex body of private sector associations now says lack of a unified approach in tackling the pandemic is increasing the cost of doing business within the trading bloc, and making regional goods not competitive.

A media engagement workshop by EABC in Nairobi yesterday heard that Tanzania and Burundi charges $100 (Sh10,975) to test for the pandemic, while Rwanda and charges $10 (Sh1,097) for rapid test and $50 (Sh5,487) for Polymerase chain reaction test. 

Whereas Kenya’s charges are varied, Uganda charges between $50 (Sh5,487) and $30 (Sh3,292) per truck driver.

“This has created an uneven platform of doing business,” said EABC’s Chief executive Peter Mathuki, adding that this not only translates into a high cost of doing business but also makes regional goods uncompetitive. 

Harmonised approach

EABC Chairman Nick Nesbitt asked the EAC secretariat to fast-track a regional harmonised approach to promptly facilitate interventions at EAC border points to unclog trade blockages and facilitate faster clearance of goods.

“We continue to emphasise the need for EAC Partner States to harmonise Covid-19 related charges, and stop testing at border posts to avoid delays in truck and cargo clearance,” he said.

Nesbitt said the region’s post Covid-19 economic recovery depended on how the pandemic will be handled.

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