The EAC Secretary General, Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera met with Burundi’s private sector Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) on Monday to discuss how to improve the EAC integration process for business and trade.
Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera disclosed that in 2011, EAC Partner States sustained an average of 5% GDP growth against the global average of 3%.
All performance indicators depicted significant growth trends, including Foreign Direct Investment inflows, which increased from US$683m in 2005 to US$1.7b in 2011.
On Burundi’s improved economy, Sezibera said: “I launched the Doing Business 2012 Report here in Bujumbura, Burundi in mid-April this year, and the Report features Burundi among the top 10 economies that improved the most on the ease of doing business, moving up eight places in the global ranking (from 177 to 169).”
He noted that according to the 2011 Doing Business indicators, it still takes an average of 47 days for people in Burundi to export a product; as a compared to the Dominican Republic, which takes eight days for a person to export a product.
He reiterated that the problem can’t be accredited to Burundi being a landlocked country. He said an exporter in Vienna, a landlocked city in Europe for example, takes 2 days to arrange for and complete the transportation of cargo to the port of Hamburg some 900 kilometres away.
“This is almost the same distance from Burundi to the port in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania but that that trip here in East Africa can take one week or longer mainly due to inadequate infrastructure, as well as additional controls and waiting time at our border posts,” said Sezibera.
He stated that the EAC Secretariat is working fulltime to implement policies which have the potential to increase investment and growth, and which also address directly issues of poverty and inequality.
At the same occasion, Amb. Laurent Kavakure, the Minister of External Relations and International Cooperation of the Republic of Burundi, told the CEO’s that progressive elimination of non-tariff barriers, the on-going construction of one-stop order posts and the creation of the Single Customs Territory will facilitate trade and improve the living standards of the people.
The SG Regional CEOs’ Forum (SG CEO Forum) is a unique platform bringing together CEOs of regional businesses within the EAC. The forum has been held in all other EAC states at a national level. A regional forum is expected to take place on 15 November 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The SG’s CEO Forum is hosted by the East African Community Secretariat in partnership with East African Business Council (EABC) and TradeMark East Africa ( TMEA ), based on the three organizations’ shared objectives of fostering the interests of the business community in the integration process.
“EABC is committed to providing a regional platform through which the business community can present their concerns to ensure a conducive Business environment within the East African Community,” noted Mr. Andrew Luzze, Executive Director EABC.
TMEA ’s Regional Director Private Sector & Civil Society Director, Ms Lisa Karanja pointed out that TMEA seeks consultations with key business leaders to ensure that the TMEA programme is well positioned to support initiatives that address private sector needs in the EAC region such as infrastructural systems, harmonisation of tax regimes, harmonisation of product standards, removal of NTBs, aspects of the common market protocol like movement of factors of production, and enhancing the capacity of SMEs in the region.
The Forum was attended by among others the Vice Chairperson of Burundi Private Sector Mr. Antoine Ntisigana; the EABC Executive Director Mr. Andrew Luzze; Country Director, TMEA, Burundi, Anthe Vrijlandt; The Foreign Affairs Minister (of Minister of International Corporation), Burundi, Am. Laurent Kavakure; Hon Hafsa Mossi, MP EALA; Peter Kiguta, Director General for Customs and Trade at the EAC and Kieran Holmes, Commissioner General OBR.