TradeMark Africa introduces new App to limit EAC trade barriersSsemuwemba said empowering the private sector to report NTBs encountered and enabling them to track the progress of the NTB through the App is key to enhancing the business environment in the region.
TradeMark Africa (TMA), has introduced a mobile application to help reduce cases of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) in the East African Community (EAC) which limit trade flow in the region.
The EAC NTBs App allows the users to report the complaints in one of the three EAC official languages; English, Swahili and French and can be downloaded from the Apple Store, Google’s Play Store, and other Android devices.
Speaking during the launch at the Secretariat in Arusha, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Customs, Trade and Monetary Affairs, Annette Ssemuwemba said the innovation marks a pivotal moment in creating a smooth trading environment across the EAC region.
“We are dedicated to eradicating the barriers that impede economic growth, and integration. This innovative solution serves as a powerful tool to empower traders, producers and economic operators offering them with a unified platform to promptly address and resolve NTBs,” she said.
TMA is a multi-purpose donor funded, not for-profit Aid for Trade organisation, established to support the growth of trade – both regional and international. Formerly known as Trade Mark East Africa, the consultancy during the past 10 years, has been at the centre of providing technical knowhow and funding to improve efficiencies at EAC border points.
“At TradeMark Africa, we believe in fostering a vibrant and conducive trade environment that propels economic growth and regional integration. This revolutionary app is a testament to our commitment to providing strategic solutions in digital trade,” Benedict Musengele, the TMA Director, Trade Policy, and Trade Facilitation said.
Latest findings show the direct costs of NTBs in the region are estimated at $16,703,970, but the total trade impact is at $94,918,000 which decreased total trade in the eight member economic bloc by an average of 58pc.
Somalia is the most recent entrant to the EAC while the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) became a member in mid-2022 to join Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
However, according to the EAC Regional Meeting Committee report for 2023, since 2017, EAC has resolved 89.5 pc of the reported NTBs. In addition, there has been a relatively steady decrease in reported NTBs. During recent years, from 2021 to 2023, the number of reported NTBs complaints has remained stable, ranging between 8 and 11 cases annually with a significant improvement in the resolution of NTBs reported to an average of 88.3 days.
Between June 2022 and June 2023, a total of 16 NTBs complaints were reported within EAC. Out of these, 9 NTBs have been resolved while 7 complaints remained in progress. A significant number of NTB complaints were addressed (56.25 pc) and resolved within the given timeframe. However, a notable portion of complaints, specifically (43.75 pc) were still in progress by end of June 2023.
Noting that these barriers, often in the form of procedural complexities, or administrative hurdles, hinder the smooth flow of goods and services across borders Ssemuwemba said, “Empowering the private sector to report NTBs encountered and enabling them to track the progress of the NTB through the App is key to enhancing the business environment in the region, it is our hope that this will be the turning point in effectively identifying and swiftly resolving NTBs in the region.”