NAIROBI, March 25 (Xinhua) — Investments in trade infrastructure as well as the removal of bureaucratic and procedural barriers to economic integration have positioned the East Africa region as the destination of choice for doing business, a study has shown.
A study published on Wednesday by the TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), a donor-funded organization formed to help regional states speed up integration, said the harmonization of product standards has expanded the East African Community (EAC) trade basket.
Encouraging results achieved over the past year, including investments in key ports have resulted in reduced cargo transit times on East Africa’s main transport corridors, and accelerated implementation of the EAC’s Single Customs Territory, said TMEA Annual Report.
TMEA Chief Executive Officer Frank Matsaert said the reduction of average time to clear goods at Kenya’s Mombasa port and transport them to Kampala, Uganda to fours days has buoyed the investments in the EAC region.
Matsaert said the reduction in the number of customs declarations by 90 percent leading to an increase in trade volumes, an example of fuel imports into Uganda which has increased from 32. 1 million litres to 108 million litres are behind surge in investments.
“The results presented in this annual report point to an ever improving trade environment which is expected to spur investments and ultimately benefit the citizens of East Africa,” he said in Nairobi.
He said poor infrastructure, delays in cargo clearance and customs procedures at the port contribute to the high cost of doing business along the transport corridor.
Mombasa port serves Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, eastern DR Congo and Southern Sudan. Traders from the landlocked states had threatened to dump the northern corridor for an alternative route through Tanzania, citing port inefficiency and corruption on Kenyan roads.
Matsaert said the ongoing infrastructure upgrades at the port would ensure increased capacity to handle growing volumes and associated demand for port services The report details TMEA’s vision of enhancing interconnectedness in the region through trade by highlighting some of the successful projects they have supported.
Notable among these is the recent signing of the Mombasa Port Community Charter, witnessed by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, 25 government and private sector agencies who committed to support initiatives that will increase efficiency at the Mombasa port and the Northern Corridor.
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