18th January 2021
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EAC urged to harmonize COVID-19 charges to boost regional trade

Author: Koang Pal Chang | Published: Monday, January 11, 2021

The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the East African Business Council, Dr. Peter Mathuki, at a past function. PHOTO | FILE

The East African Business Council (EABC) is urging for lowering and harmonization of COVID-19 related charges in the East African Community, in a bid to ease the cost of doing business and boost intra-EAC trade.

In a statement seen by Eye Radio today [Monday], the regional business council says this is also set to support businesses to be more resilient and rebound amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, Covid-19 tests are priced differently in each Partner State EAC Partner States, while containment measures are varied.

South Sudan, which is charging $120 for foreigners and $75 for nationals is the most expensive compared to the other EAC Partner States.

Tanzania and Burundi are now charging a standard rate of $100 for both nationals and foreigners while the other Partner States’ charges vary.

Kenya is charging $60 dollars, While Uganda is charging $50 dollars for both nationals and foreigners.

“The EAC Secretariat should fast track regional coordination and harmonization of measures on COVID-19 for economic resilience and growth of the EAC bloc,” said Dr. Mathuki, CEO EABC.

Dr. Mathuki also called for the establishment of a common quarantine period in the region and fast-tracking of the waiting time for Covid-19 test results.

The lack of harmonization of Covid-19 testing rates in accredited laboratories and uncoordinated waiting time for the test results is disrupting cross-border trade.

COVID-19 related Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) continue to hinder cross-border trade due to different measures on COVID-19 in the region.

As of October 2020, the World Bank predicted growth in Sub-Saharan Africa to fall to-3.3 percent in 2020, driven by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Different preventive and restrictive measures undertaken by the EAC Partner States to control the spread of COVID-19 have significantly slowed down trade, movement of persons, and integration.

The trickle-down effects of these measures have also been felt across affiliated industries and the rest of the economy.

Dr. Mathuki noted that reduction and harmonization of COVID-19 related NTBs will also enable businesses to tap into the opportunities availed by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“AfCFTA prioritizes addressing challenges in trade policy, productive capacity, hard and soft infrastructure, trade information and market integration which are critical for doing business in the continent,” he said.

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