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UNCTAD, TradeMark East Africa extend deal to ease trade

Jul '19
TradeMark East Africa
TradeMark East Africa's chief executive officer, Frank Matsaert & UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi. Pic: UNCTAD
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and TradeMark East Africa recently signed a $3.1-million agreement for the second phase of a project on facilitating trade in East Africa. The first phase of the project was implemented between 2016 and 2018 with a budget of $3.4 million. The project’s second phase will be implemented over four years.

“Trade has surged in the region thanks to our work together. We look forward to building on our joint achievements in facilitating reforms that are stimulating trade both within and beyond the region,” UNCTAD secretary general Mukhisa Kituyi said.

TradeMark East Africa’s chief executive officer, Frank Matsaert, said: “Our partnership has helped the countries in the region to put trade on an upward trajectory. Through our joint commitment, we’ll achieve even more success.”

The agreement will build on the institutional governance set by the trade facilitation sub-committee of the East African Community (EAC) and national trade facilitation committees (NTFCs) in each partner state, according to an UNCTAD press release.

The partner states in the project are Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Trade facilitation will boost intra-regional trade and increase the competitiveness of the countries in the EAC.

This phase of the project is expected to enhance the role and capacity of the NTFCs as coordinating entities of trade facilitation reforms and help them focus on simplifying cross-border trade procedures. The project is designed to build the capacity of NTFCs to create and sustainably manage enquiry points that offer information and assistance to traders.

It is expected to enhance the transparency of trade procedures through trade information portals and strengthen the capacity of the EAC trade facilitation sub-committee to drive national and regional trade initiatives.

The first phase of the project saw the construction of four national trade information portals in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, as well as a regional trade portal. Burundi’s trade portal is being finalised. The national portals have enabled the creation of a trade index that allows comparisons of steps in import, export and transit procedures among the partner states.

In addition, more than 200 members of the NTFCs, including 90 women, were trained in the formulation of action plans and project proposals to secure funding for trade facilitation.

The first phase of the collaboration between UNCTAD and TMEA also resulted in the publication of a comprehensive comparative analysis of the gender implications of regional integration and trade policy in the EAC member states.

They trained 86 policymakers, academicians and members of the civil society and private sector on how to create a gender-responsive trade environment in the region. (DS)

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