EAC Partner States Reminded to Implement Activities of Common Market Protocols

The East Africa Regional Monitoring Group on the implementation of EAC Common Market has asked the Sectoral Council responsible for EAC Affairs and Planning, to direct Partner States to prioritize and adequately budget for the activities relating to the implementation of EAC Common Market Protocol.
 
The Director for Trade Integration, Ministry of Trade and Industry, United Republic of Tanzania and Chairman of the meeting Mr. Ismail Hussein Mfinanga said that the Sectoral Council responsible for EAC Affairs and  planning needs to remind the Partner States about the importance of prioritizing and adequately budget for the activities related to the implementation of the
EAC Common Market Protocol.
 
The East African Community (EAC) Common Market Protocol came into force on 1st July 2010, following ratification by all the five Partner States-Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The protocol provides for four main freedoms, namely the free movement of goods; labour; services; and capital, which if well implemented, will significantly boost trade and investments and make the region more productive and prosperous.
 
During the period July - December 2014, the key achievements presented by each partner state in the implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol by Partner Sates painted a positive picture. Burundi, for instance, did not impose any Non-Tarrif Barriers (NTBs) while the Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary (SPS) Protocol was tabled before the Parliament. Burundi also revised the Foreign Exchange Regulation of 2010 which aimed to facilitate the free movement of capital, finalised the data collection for the manpower survey; and had issued an official notice to remove all administrative restrictions on the provision of services.
 
Kenya, on the other hand, had reviewed the Capital Markets Act, Cap 487, Insurance Amendment Act, 2014 and Competition Act No. 12 of 2010 to remove restrictions on the East Africans and improve the investment environment. 
 
Kenya has also put in place the Capital Markets (Future Exchanges Regulations, 2013 to ensure full liberalization of the Capital Account; established an East African Desk at the Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government - Immigration Department and had finalized and launched the Manpower Survey on 3 October 2014.Other activities that Kenya has undertaken include adoption of 361 standards in line with the SQMT Protocol; operationalised the EAC Single Customs Territory and most of the products traded within the EAC are cleared through this system; implemented One Network Area project which has harmonized
roaming charges for all networks in the Republics of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
 
Kenya has enacted NSSF Act No. 45 of 2013 which provides among others for the portability of social security benefits; and has had its Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Protocol tabled before the Parliament. Rwanda has put in place an SMS Feedback tool to measure and monitor the NTBs across the northern and central corridors; Organized business breakfast sessions through the Ministry of EAC, on a quarterly basis to discuss and address NTBs encountered; ratified the Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary (SPS)
Protocol and adopted 325 Standards under the SQMT Protocol.
 
It has also operationalised the EAC Single Customs Territory by having Rwanda's imported goods cleared at first entry point in the community; implemented the use of machine readable National IDs as travel documents for the citizens of Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya who wish to travel across the borders of these countries.
 
Rwanda has fully liberalized capital accounts to allow inward and outward investment on one hand, implemented One Network Area project and both telecom companies and consumers started and continued to enjoy the benefits accruing from increased volume of calls as a result of reduction and harmonization of roaming charges.
 
Tanzania like other EAC States has tabled before the Parliament, the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Protocol and enacted a Non-citizen (Employment Regulation) Act 2015 which among others addresses provision of the EAC CMP.
 
The meeting was also informed that Tanzania has amended the Immigration Regulations of 1997 to reflect the provisions of EAC CMP related to free movement of persons, free movement of workers and rights of establishment and residence, the regulations which come into force from July 2015 upon being signed by the Minister responsible for Immigration.
 
Tanzania held and agreed to hold more quarterly meetings with professional bodies to deliberate on issues pertaining to the implementation of the Common Market Protocol and undertook a surveillance exercise to monitor the removal of NTBs along the central and northern routes. On the other hand, Tanzania amended the Capital Markets and Securities (Foreign Investors) Regulations 2003 through G.N. No. 338 published in September, 2014 of which in section 3, Citizens of East African Partner
States are allowed to purchase government securities; and removed restrictions within EAC in the Capital Markets on Secondary Trading of Bonds by virtue of G.N. 338 of September, 2014.
 
Uganda on its part had launched a National Policy on EAC Integration; adopted 359 standards in line with the SQMT Protocol; launched an SMS platform to monitor implementation of NTBs and ratified the SPS Protocol. The country has also issued 610,000 National IDs to citizens during pilot phase as well as a certificate of financial implication on the competition policy, and on the principles of the competition and consumer protection bills.
 
Challenges:
The meeting observed that the challenges the Partner States face in implementing the Common Market Protocol are similar, including slow pace of harmonization of National Laws into the EAC Context; Partner states facing difficulties in engaging the responsible Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) and key  stakeholders to prioritize the amendment of the Non-Conforming Measures (NCMs); and inadequate resources at national level which limit the mainstreaming of the Common Market Protocol commitments into national development plans.