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EAC Round Table Conference on Trade Facilitation

Posted on: October 25, 2017

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The EAC secretariat organised a Round Table Conference on Trade Facilitation, bringing together partners who are working with EAC in the implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA). The aim of the round table was to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to look at collaboration and coordination of Development Partners in relation to the various components of the TFA regional plan.

The round table was held on 27th September 2017 at the EAC headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania and benefited from the contributions of representatives of UNCTAD, WTO, WCO as well as all the EAC Member States. In this context, the TradeCom II Programme was invited to participate, given the PMU’s mandate to support ACP Countries and Regions to improve their trade capacity. The mission was undertaken by the Regional Trade Expert, Poonam D. Mohun.

The WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) was adopted by the WTO General Council in November 2014. TFA is aimed at facilitating trade by simplifying, harmonizing and standardizing trade procedures and making them transparent so as to reduce time and cost of any trade operation. Trade Facilitation is of the essence to enhance trade competitiveness and economic growth in developing countries and least-developed countries (LDCs).

The WTO TFA aims to fast track the movement of goods among countries by cutting down red tape and triggering TF reforms. The TFA also provides for commitments from both, developing and developed countries, as regards its implementation. Indeed, WTO developing countries and least developed countries are to implement the measures in line with their capacity, and developed countries are to support developing members to acquire the necessary capacity.

The EAC Partner States decided to coordinate the implementation of the TFA as a bloc establishing a Regional Trade Facilitation Sub-Committee and developing an EAC Regional Trade Facilitation Implementation Action Plan with the aim to coordinate the implementation of the TFA at the EAC regional level. The EAC also ensures the convergence of the national implementation plans and coordinates the capacity building and sensitization of stakeholders on the Trade Facilitation.

During the Round Table Conference, the EAC presented the progress on the TFA implementation and action plan highlighting the key priorities at national level and the appraisal of the state of play at the international level particularly the WTO and WCO.

In conclusion, the Round Table agreed that the EAC will develop a concept note that summarizes the key issues on TFA implementation in terms of coordination, and identification of projects that need donor support. The concept note should include, among others, a joint programming and coordination mechanism between EAC and Development Partners that maps existing projects, identify areas for support and enable ongoing dialogue. Furthermore, it will foresee cross border interconnectivity of systems to enhance the exchange of information and capacity building of all stakeholders involved in the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The Round Table reaffirmed also the need to strengthen the linkage between the National Trade Facilitation Committees and regional sub-committee on Trade Facilitation Agreement to enhance planning, feedback and to develop a comprehensive Monitoring and Evaluation mechanism to monitor the performance of the TFA implementation.

Programme funded by European Union at the request of ACP Group - Implemented by AESA CONSORTIUM