EAC finance, trade ministers adopt 35 pct as region’s 4th band common external tariff

The East African Community (EAC) finance and trade ministers on Thursday adopted 35 percent as the 4th band of the EAC common external tariff (CET), the regional bloc said in a statement on Friday.

The statement issued by the EAC headquarters in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha said the ministers made the decision during a retreat on the comprehensive review of the CET held on Thursday in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa.

According to the statement, the ministers decided that implementation of the reviewed EAC CET shall commence on July 1, 2022.

Tariff lines in this 4th band include dairy and meat products, cereals, cotton and textiles, iron and steel, edible oils, beverages and spirits, said the statement.

According to the statement, others are furniture, leather products, fresh-cut flowers, fruits and nuts, sugar and confectionery, coffee, tea and spices, textiles and garments, head gears, ceramic products and paints.

The statement said the ministers were informed that the maximum tariff band at 35 percent was the most appropriate rate, as in the long run, it has the most positive impact to regional growth.

The statement said the ministers further agreed that there should be flexibility in implementation of the revised CET, particularly on products currently affected by the current global economic realities.

The ministers directed EAC member states to identify products which are affected by the current global trade disruptions for consideration during the pre-budget consultations meeting scheduled for May 9 through May 13, 2022.

Peter Mathuki, the EAC secretary general, termed this as a positive step towards the promotion of industrial sectors and realization of the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“The move is set to spur intra-regional trade by encouraging local manufacturing, value addition and industrialization,” said Mathuki.

EAC member states are Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.