The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and TradeMark East Africa ( TMEA ) signed a memorandum of understanding today affirming their partnership and setting common goals of increasing trade within East Africa.
The partnership will promote exports to current market and new markets, including the United States and support the East African Community’s (EAC) excellent progress on regional trade integration.
The agreement was signed by Earl Gast, USAID Assistant Administrator for the Africa Bureau, and Frank Matsaert, CEO of TMEA .
Specifically, USAID and TMEA agreed to work to increase intra-regional trade by 25 percent and exports to the rest of the world by 10 percent by 2016.
Much of this progress is expected to be accomplished by reducing transit time and trade costs by 15 percent, while supporting the EAC in moving towards a more fully functional Customs Union and Common Market.
The EAC, the regional economic community representing East Africa, is comprised of the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, with headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
East Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, though trade continues to be hampered by tariff as well as non-tariff barriers, including over-stretched ports and time consuming customs and border operations.
TMEA is a regional not-for-profit organization (with offices in all East African countries, as well as Juba, South Sudan) that provides technical and monetary support to the EAC Secretariat, national governments, private sector and civil society.
The support is to improve the ease of trading in East Africa through an emphasis on streamlining port, transit, customs and border operations in order to enhance trade.
It has been supported largely by European bilateral donors and works to promote rapid advances in East Africa’s economic integration, trade and global competitiveness for all East Africans.
USAID/East Africa partners with governments, civil society and the private sector throughout East Africa to accelerate sustainable development to improve the lives of East Africans.
It provides assistance across borders and in promotion of regional integration, helping countries to improve their capacity to achieve food security and boost economic growth, to better contain and prevent conflict and to improve health systems, with a special emphasis on fighting HIV/AIDS.