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EAC states urged to address trade barriers

Member States in the East African Community region have been urged to make deliberate efforts to eliminate critical barriers to trade and logistics that hamper the region from reaping desired benefits from both the international and intra-regional trade.

The Principal Secretary for Regional and Northern Corridor Development Dr. Belio Kipsang said it is important for Member States to remain committed in developing regional transport infrastructure as it will promote regional integration and trade.

He said the cooperation and commitment will eliminate the remaining non-tariff barriers to trade thereby making the region competitive for business and investment.

Kipsang said the improvement of infrastructure and facilities for seaports, inland ports and waterways, roads, rails and pipelines by the states will enable the region benefit in trade.

He said the Northern Corridor Secretariat has been spearheading initiatives to enhance cooperation, improve performance of the corridor and to deepen integration among member states.

Speaking during the official launch of the Northern Corridor enhanced transport Observatory Portal in the Nairobi, the PS said the Northern Corridor Executive Committee of the Secretariat has put various initiatives in place aimed at transforming the Corridor into an economic development corridor.

“The secretariat developed a new five year Strategic Plan for the period 2022-2026 which is currently finalized and awaiting approval, and a  green corridor program to control greenhouse gas emissions and enabling green growth of the corridor,” said Kispang.

Other initiatives include the development of road side stations along the corridor, with master planning already completed for a pilot facility at Kikopey in Kenya, the development of the Northern corridor business portal to enhance information sharing , peer learning among businesses and to promote exports through expanded markets.

Studies are also being undertaken on inland waterways development with an aim of encouraging water transport systems and development of small ports.

Kipsang said in support of the Northern Corridor agenda, Kenya as a gateway to the corridor has implemented various infrastructure projects aimed at improving the transport services and facilitating trade by attracting investment and fostering exports.

“Kenya has the Standard Gauge Railway that has seen cargo evacuated to Nairobi and Naivasha reducing the distances to haul cargo by trucks by more than 500 kilometers,” stated the PS, adding that the establishment of the transshipment facility in Malaba will help in fast evacuation of transit freight.

He said the launch of the Northern Corridor enhanced transport observatory portal will provide reliable and timely information to policy makers in the region, as well as facilitate formulation of polices that lead to better transit, trade facilitation and cooperation between Corridor Member States.

“The Data from the observatory will eliminate multiple security bonds and customs declarations, reduce roads, police and customs roadblocks, decongestion of Mombasa Port by streamlining and automating the procedures and operations,” said the PS.

Other gains include harmonization of national customs laws and instruments and the introduction of high speed weigh in motion systems to reduce multiple weighbridges along the corridor among others.

By Bernadette Khaduli

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