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EA states to ease cross border trade

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 28- The East African Community Ministry (EAC) has disclosed that it will soon set up Regional Integration Centres in various borders posts to help address some of the challenges experienced by traders at entry points.

EAC Minister Jeffa Kingi said on Wednesday that they intend to train officers who will be in charge of the centres to help ease and facilitate cross-border trade.

“We have been receiving many complaints from Kenyan business people who cross over to partner states about the kind of problems that they go through at those posts. So we will have these centres and officers who will effectively man those centres,” he said.

He said these were part of the reform measures that are being undertaken by his ministry to strengthen its institutional and human capacity.

The reforms will see the ministry structured in the same way as the EAC Secretariat and would have various directorates within the office which would make it easier to coordinate efforts from the Arusha-based body.

“We are going to have directorates of economic affairs, political, social, judicial, legal affairs and productive and service sectors,” he revealed.

The reforms which will also include the creation of an Advisory Council and the laying of ICT infrastructure would be spread out within this financial year.

“We are already on it and within this financial year, we should be able to cover a number of those reforms,” he said adding that they have received considerable funding from both the government and the development partners for the restructuring exercise.

The development comes a few days after COMESA announced a similar initiative, Simplified Trade Regime, aimed at in removing the barriers faced by informal traders.

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Mr Kingi spoke during the launch of their reviewed five-year Strategic Plan that seeks to coordinate efforts with the other EAC partner states as they implement the region’s integration process.

He emphasised the need to create public awareness and strategic approach for the process which he said was core to the country’s development.

“The plan aims at making Kenyans understand the benefits they stand to gain as a result of being part of the EAC while at the same time entrenching the integration process in the national Vision 2030,” he stressed.

At the same time, Mr Kingi expressed confidence that the Heads of States from the five EAC member states would sign the Common Market Protocol on November 20 in Arusha and which is expected to be implemented by July 2010.

Once this is done, attention will shift to the third pillar in the integration process, which is having a Monetary Union and later the Political Federation.

Various activities were now being carried out to ensure that the region rid itself of the ills that dog partner states before the political federation is achieved.

“There’s a lot that is happening to make sure that we prepare the foundation for the Federation so that it is free from these cancers that we are seeing in individual member countries,” the Minister added.

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