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H.E. President Kibaki commends EAC Ministers on NTBs / Urges the Ministers to fast track their removal

By East African Community (EAC)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, March 19, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- His Execellency President Mwai Kibaki of the Republic of Kenya and the current Chair of the EAC Heads of State Summit today commended Partner States' Ministers of EAC Affairs for identifying non tariff barriers (NTBs) that are impacting intra-regional trade, investmnent and free movement of people that need to be eliminated within the shortest time possible.

The President, who was meeting the Ministers led by the Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers, Hon. Musa Sirma at his Haraambe House Office in Nairobi, said “I am gratified to note that you have identified the non tariff barrriers within the Community that need to be eliminated and the next step is for you to spearhead and fast track their removal”.

The Summit, of which I am now the Chair, attaches great importance to the promotion and sustenance of a vibrant regional market that is free from any impediments that may obstruct the free movement of goods and people among the Partner States, asserted the President.

President Kibaki urged the Ministers not to hold back as he sees no reason for doing so saying “it will be meaningful for the East Africans as a region if we remove these NTBs”.

The Chairperson of the Summit urged the Ministers of EAC Affairs to bring to the attention of all stakeholders the decisions that have been taken in regard to the removal of the NTBs. He said “each one of you has a duty to inform and follow up with the others (stakeholders) what has been agreed upon, adding that it is yourselves to sustain this region and we should not look for other people to sort ourselves out”.

The Chair of the Summit urged the Ministers to keep him posted and engaged, as well as other Heads of State, on any challenges that they may encounter while implementing the decisions taken on the removal of the NTBs in the regional bloc.

Earlier, the Chairperson of the Council of Ministers, Hon. Musa Sirma briefed the Head of State on some of the decisions taken at the dedicated Ministerail meeting held on 14 March 2012 in Mombasa, Kenya. Among the key decisions taken at the dedicated session were; transit vehicles will be weighed twice from the Port of entry and Port of exit for Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi while the United Republic of Tanzania awaits a study on the establishment of the weighbridges.

Partner States also agreed to identify Borders and Ports that would be put on 24hrs operation and report to the EAC Secretariat within two weeks. The Ministers at their dedicated session also agreed on the mutual recognition of Standards of each Partner States testing authorities/agencies. They also agreed to recognize certificates of Rules of Origin by the other Partner States.

Container Frieght Services (CFS) companies will now charge the same rates for services as the Ports Authorities do in the respective countries (Kenya and Tanzania).

Trucks entering the United Republic of Tanzania will not be charged US$200 as well as the visa charges on businessmen entering the Unted Republic of Tanzania will be eliminated.

The roadblocks in the Northern and Central Corridors will reduce from 36 to 5 in Kenya, 30 to 15 in the Unitred Republic of Tanzania, while Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi will abolish completely the roadblacks. Furthermone, Partner States agreed to remove roadblocks and replace them with electronic cargo tracking systems and police patrols by December 2012.

The Minister for East African Cooperation in the United Republic of Tanzania Hon. Samuel Sita commended the Chair of the Summit for following up closely the issue of NTBs in the Community and called upon the Members of the Summit for further support to the Ministers when it comes to implementation of some of the decisions on NTBs in the respective Partner States.

The Secretary General of the East African Community Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera informed the President that the Ministerial session on Non tariff Barriers in Mombasa was a key milestone in scaling up the elimination campaign on trade restrictive measures. He informed the President that the Council will be reporting regularly to the Summit progress on elimination of NTBs.

In a vote of thanks, Burundi's Minister responsible for EAC Affairs in the Office of the Presidency, Hon. Hafsa Mossi saluted President Kibaki and Chair of the Summit for taking the lead in elimination campaign of NTBs in the region and assured the President that the Ministers will make it a prioirity for the welbeing of the East African people.

Apart from the Chair of the EAC Council of Ministers and Minister of East African Community, Hon Musa Sirma; other Ministers from Kenya that briefed the President included the Minister for Trade Hon. Ali Mwakwere and Ag. Minister of Finance, Hon. Robinson Njeru Githae.

Others included Uganda's first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of EAC Affairs Rt. Hon. Eriya Kategaya; Deputy Attorney General and Minister of State for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Frederick Ruhindi; State Minister for Trade and Cooperatives, Hon. David Wakikona; and State Minister for Transport, Hon. Dr. Stephen Chebrot.

The Director General of the EAC Directorate of Customs and Trade, Mr. Peter Kiguta; the Vice Chair of the East African Business Council, Mr. Keli Kiilu as well as Rwanda Chamber of Commerce President, Mr. John Bosco Rusagara; the Deputy Minister for the East African Cooperation Hon. Dr. Abdalla Juma Abdalla and other Tanzanian government officials were also present.