Manufacturers agree to enhance competitiveness in East Africa

Kenya’s umbrella manufacturers body has signed an agreement with a regional body formed to help East African states speed up integration, create better business environment and enhance the sector’s competitiveness in the region.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) said in Nairobi the two-year agreement will see an extension of a financial grant to KAM for supporting its advocacy work in the area of non tariff barriers, standards and counterfeits.

“We are looking into implementing advocacy campaigns, especially related to non-tariff barriers, trade in counterfeits, anomalies in the common external tarrif (CET) and access to trade and market information,” said TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Kenya Country Director Chris Kiptoo.

Kiptoo said the partnership aims to support KAM’s policy and advocacy work as well as engagement with the relevant authorities in a bid to address the challenges facing the industry in the region.

He pointed out that the first phase of the project focused on building and evidence base for advocacy in the key priority areas identified by KAM, which include tax reforms in Kenya, cost of quality compliance, domestic non-tariff barriers affecting industry in Kenya, constitutional issues affecting business, overlapping regulatory roles and the severity of counterfeits.

“TMEA’s keenness to support KAM has carved out a productive space for advocacy and engagement with the necessary sections of the government,” said KAM CEO Phyllis Wakiaga.

“Our manufacturing sector has remained stagnant at 11 percent of GDP over the past ten years.

As a result, the number of formal jobs in manufacturing has grown at just 7 percent per year over the past four years,” she said, adding that the sector’s exports have stagnated at 15 percent of GDP, while imports have grown to 40 percent of GDP creating a trade imbalance.

“These gaps can only be closed by revitalising our industrial sector,” Wakiaga said, adding that KAM is keen in ensuring that global competitiveness is achieved.

KAM Manufacturing Priority Agenda 2014 identified trade hindrances, unfriendly tax regimes and proliferation of counterfeit goods as some of the areas that contribute to the increased cost of doing business and lead to the reduction of regional trade.
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EARLIER REPORT:

International Finance Corporation launch strategy to boost East Africa business NAIROBI (Xinhua) — The World Bank Group’s subsidiary, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has launched a strategy to boost business in East Africa.

The East Africa Chapter of the Africa Corporate Governance Program, which was launched in Nairobi on Wednesday, aims to improve the performance of businesses in the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Corporate governance refers to the structures and processes by which businesses are managed. The East Africa program will coach businesses on how to become more transparent and accountable to investors and stakeholders.

The program will build on the experience of IFC and World Bank governance initiatives in other parts of the world.

IFC’s Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Cheikh Oumar Seydi told journalists in Nairobi Tuesday evening that the organization has invested over 2 billion U.S. dollars in the last two years to improve corporate governance within the region.

“By further supporting good corporate governance practices within African companies, we expect them to carry lower financial and non-financial risk and generate high returns for shareholders,” Seydi said.

He said IFC will support businesses in critical sectors for African development including power, agribusiness, and financial services.

The program, which is funded by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, is intended to equip businesses in the four countries with the tools they need to attract and retain investment and operate more efficiently.

Source: Coastweek.com