EAST AFRICA – The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat has introduced a mobile application, the EAC NTBs App, aimed at eliminating Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).

This innovative tool is set to transform the trading landscape in the region by simplifying the reporting, monitoring, and resolution of obstacles faced by traders conducting business across borders.

Funded by the Netherlands through TradeMark Africa (TMA), the EAC NTBs App blends SMS, email, and phone reporting methods, providing economic operators with a unified platform to report NTBs effectively.

By streamlining the reporting process, the app aims to assist traders and producers in overcoming impediments that hinder trade efficiency and competitiveness.

Additionally, it ensures transparency and prompt issue resolution by engaging technical and policy-level mechanisms such as National Focal Points, National Monitoring Committees (NMCs), and the Regional Monitoring Committee (RMC).

During the app’s launch, Ms. Annette Ssemuwemba, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Customs, Trade, and Monetary Affairs, emphasized its pivotal role in creating a smoother trading environment across the EAC region.

She highlighted the dedication to eradicating barriers that impede economic growth and integration, noting that NTBs often manifest as procedural complexities or administrative hurdles hindering the flow of goods and services across borders.

“We are dedicated to eradicating the barriers that impede economic growth, and integration. This innovative solution serves as a powerful tool to empower traders, producers and economic operators offering them with a unified platform to promptly address and resolve NTBs,” she reiterated..

Ms. Ssemuwemba expressed optimism that empowering the private sector to report and track NTBs through the app would be a turning point in identifying and swiftly resolving these barriers in the region.

Benedict Musengele, Director of Trade Policy and Trade Facilitation at TradeMark Africa, emphasized the app’s role in fostering a vibrant and conducive trade environment that propels economic growth and regional integration.

NTBs have been a significant concern for traders and producers, impacting profits and limiting market access.

These barriers include discriminatory requirements, excessive paperwork, complicated customs procedures, and bureaucratic delays.

A recent EAC Regional Meeting Committee (RMC) report estimated the direct costs of NTBs at USD 16.7 million with a total trade impact of USD 94.9 million, resulting in a 58% decrease in trade.

Since 2017, the EAC has successfully resolved 89.5% of reported NTBs, showing a steady decrease in reported cases, as per the report.

The EAC NTBs App, available in English, Swahili, and French, can be downloaded from the Apple Store, Google’s Play Store, and other Android devices. It marks a significant step toward a more efficient and equitable trade environment in the East African region.

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