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TradeMark East Africa: Strengthening Private Sector, Government and Donor Collaboration in Support of Regional Integration in East Africa
East Africa faces a range of challenges that have a major impact on the pace of progress towards economic integration, and consequently higher levels of economic growth, trade and poverty reduction. 40% of East Africans live in landlocked countries versus a world average of 1%, making it much harder for producers to access international markets. Transport costs are 60-70% higher in East Africa than the USA or Europe, and only 5% of East African trade is with other African countries. To put the region in perspective, the country of Luxembourg has a higher GDP than the combined economic output of the East African Community.
Steady progress is being made on East African integration by EAC member countries and with other regional trading groups, with an EAC common market established in 2010, and monetary union on the horizon. EAC institutions are evolving and strengthening their capacity to ensure that the Common Market functions effectively.
For regional integration to deliver on its potential, the EAC and its supporting institutions have a long list of priorities to address, amongst them attracting more inward investment and doing more to help poor people access financial and trade markets. Infrastructure, including energy, ports, rail and road remains weak, improvements in the business enabling environment are patchy, and the agricultural sector is seriously impaired by a wide range of systemic market failures.
To support the EAC Secretariat, EAC Partner State governments, business and civil society organisations to take forward and benefit from the process of economic integration in East Africa, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) ( www.trademarkea.com ) has been established with support from DFID, and the governments of Denmark, Sweden, and Belgium.
Based in Nairobi with offices throughout the East African region, TMEA provides a multi- donor platform for scaling-up grant assistance to East Africa on regional integration, transport corridors and trade-related infrastructure, trade facilitation, export development, regional investment, and coping with the social and environmental adjustment costs of deeper integration and rapid export-led growth.
By 2015, TMEA is aiming to reduce transport costs by 15%, increase the value of exports by 10%, and increase the share of intra-regional trade as a total of East African trade by 25%. In addition, TMEA is aiming for a significant reduction in non- tariff barriers in support of the EAC Customs Union and Common Market, and harmonisation of Rules of Origin, standards and transport regulations across COMESA-EAC-SADC.
A key component of TMEA’s mandate is to support business and civil society to make a strong contribution to progressing the regional integration agenda, recognising that their involvement is a vital element in ensuring that trade integration is sustainable and poverty reducing. TMEA aims to provide long term financial and technical assistance to key organisations to enable them to provide important input and analysis on the regional programme.
The Partnership Agenda
The private sector partnership agenda will be instrumental in enabling and realising the full benefits of East Africa integration. In this initial phase, TMEA will be supporting the private sector in its advocacy on regional integration issues with the aim of encouraging the East African Community and national governments to implement policies and practices that benefit the private sector. TMEA will also support businesses to increase their use of online documentation processes for import and export of goods, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of clearing and forwarding agents. Finally, TMEA will work with business organisations such as the East Africa Business Council and Chambers of Commerce to improve their monitoring and resolution of complaints on non-tariff barriers.
To further enable the private sector to drive Africa’s development, TMEA is working with the EAC and public sector to improve cross-border processes, reduce congestion and improve the transparency of import and export procedures. The establishment of electronic submissions and other related documentation will also streamline information requirements.
As the engine room of growth, trade and investment, the private sector has a key interest in and
role to play in supporting efforts towards regional integration. TMEA is actively engaging with private sector organisations at the local, regional and international level to advance this shared agenda and to jointly tackle constraints to trade.
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