State to tap EAC market to boost Kenya
President William Ruto has signalled his intention to tap into the East African Community (EAC) regional market in a move that will push up Kenya’s dwindling trade fortunes.
In his Shujaa day address to the Nation, President Ruto said the community is becoming more tightly connected through infrastructure, saying the dream of attaining a Federation was no longer idle.
According to the head of state, the rigid territorial borders are firmly on the way out, “as we move towards full integration,” even as he noted that non-tariff barriers have come down, amidst soaring trade volumes.
“The possibility of an East African Federation is no longer a wild imagination or an idle dream. It is no longer a matter of if, it is a matter of when,” said the head of state.
The President has not wasted time engaging his regional counterparts after his September 13 inauguration. Between October 6 and 9, the President visited Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania respectively in what he said was “...to take care of mutually beneficial regional business.”
His first regional visit took the head of state to Ethiopia to witness Safaricom Plc launch its Ethiopian subsidiary, Safaricom Ethiopia, taking the opportunity to discuss bilateral cooperation and deepening the economic and strategic ties between the two countries on regional issues.
But it is the visit to Uganda and Tanzania where Kenyan manufacturers and traders will be more interested.
Despite the head of state saying “East African Community has become a close-knit neighbourhood and everyone’s well-being has become everybody’s business”, trade statistics indicate Kenya is losing out, Kenya is now importing more from Tanzania and Uganda.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Standards (KNBS), the country is importing more from Tanzania, with exports from the neighbouring country increasing from Sh39.9 billion between January and September 2021 from Sh19.7 billion in 2020.