Nairobi– December 13th, 2018 – The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) have signed an MOU which is aimed at boosting trade in East Africa through collaboration on Trade and Gender, Trade Facilitation, trade portals, enquiry points and transport related infrastructure.
Speaking during the contribution agreement signing ceremony in Nairobi, the Secretary General for UNCTAD Dr Mukhisa Kituyi said:
“UNCTAD has supported the institutional architecture of trade facilitation in the East Africa region for many years,” Dr Kituyi said. “For example, we have helped launch trade portals, which simplify trade procedures and reduce the time and cost of trade transactions in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda – and soon in Tanzania.”
Frank Matsaert, CEO of TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) said “since 2010 we have had strong partnership with the EAC Secretariat and Partner States to increase trade and deepen the regional integration agenda through investment in hard and soft trade infrastructure. Together with UNCTAD, we look forward to continued partnership and support to the region’s trade facilitation agenda as highlighted in the Ministerial declaration”.
The signing ceremony was done at the side-lines of a special EAC ministerial summit held during the first UNCTAD Africa eCommerce Week and moderated by UNCTAD Secretary General, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi.
Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Uganda agreed today to make trade between them and with other countries cheaper, faster and simpler in a significant boost for economic integration in East Africa and continental trade facilitation.
Representatives of the nations – who are members of the East African Community Customs Union and Common Market (EAC) – said they would implement trade facilitation reforms including reducing “non-tariff barriers” such as burdensome and incompatible product regulations.
“The EAC is a driving force in Africa, displaying good practice in the implementation of trade facilitation reforms,” Dr Kituyi said. “The EAC Secretariat has shown strong leadership, and I am confident this will continue for smooth implementation at both national, regional and, eventually, continental levels.”
The Nairobi meeting, thought to be the first time a regional bloc in Africa has gathered at this level to pledge trade facilitation reforms in light of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, was organized by UNCTAD and the EAC Secretariat with the support of TradeMark East Africa and the International Trade Centre.