NAIROBI, September 8 – Trade Minister Uhuru Kenyatta Monday called for the strengthening of committees working on the elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) within the East African region to eliminate the obstacles that impede intra regional trade.
Uhuru, who’s also a Deputy Prime Minister, told a delegation from Kenya and Tanzania that the removal of the NTBs would go a long way in ensuring that the EAC member states improve trade and investment between them.
Speaking during the opening of the Kenya-Tanzania Business and Investment Forum, the minister pledged that the two governments were committed to ensuring a conducive environment for the private sector to operate in.
“We believe that the private sector is the engine of growth in our economies. We will continue to pursue this principle and our priority will remain reducing the cost of doing business and ensuring smooth flow of goods and services between our countries,” the DPM vowed.
This was in reference to the implementation of the 24-hour working schedule at ports and borders posts in order to reduce the time spent by businessmen in clearing cargo.
He urged the two countries to put more efforts in providing the requisite information on existing opportunities in order to facilitate trade and investment flows.
In this regard, Uhuru revealed that his ministry would soon establish a ‘one-stop shop’ to provide investors with the professional assistance, information and facilitation to enable them succeed in their investments.
Uhuru observed that although some partner states had expressed uncertainty about the developments of the EAC integration process, the impact of the Customs Union had been positive.
“We should stay together as we embrace deeper regional integration effort. We should learn not to deny our people what we give to others,” stressed the minister.
He cited the increased trade between Kenya and Tanzania which went up by 30 percent from Sh23 billion in 2006 to Sh30 billion in 2007.
“We have also witnessed increased Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) by Kenya into Tanzania, which stood at $1.7 billion in 2007, making Kenya the leading foreign investor in the country,” he added.
Uhuru however called for the scaling up of the export of value added products instead of relying on the agricultural and semi-processed goods.
He welcomed the meeting whose theme ‘to create a forum for exchange of information on Trade and Investments opportunities through business matching’ he said was a necessary step towards networking, exposure and initiation of business relationships.