…as EABC calls for common regional policies on future global shocks
ARUSHA, Tanzania: The Chief Executive Officer of the East African Business Council (EABC) Mr. John Bosco Kalisa has urged EAC Partners States to have common regional policies on future global shocks to enhance economic resilience and rebound amid COVID-19.
Speaking at the News Editors Round Table on Impact of COVID-19 on Businesses and Economies in the EAC organized by EABC with support from TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Safe Trade Project, Mr. Kalisa said “EAC should strengthen regional value and supply chains to support local production in order to minimize the dependence on imported goods and services.”
He elaborated that EABC championed Buy East African Build East Africa and Tembea Nyumbani campaigns to support the rebound of the manufacturing and tourism sectors amid COVID-19.
He stated that Worldbank has forecasted EAC real Gross Domestic Product togrow above 3.8% in 2022. He further urged for the implementation of monetary policy measures to support business recovery such as affordable and accessible credit to the private sector especially SMEs and women cross-border traders.
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, EABC partnered with TMEA in the Safe Trade Project to reduce barriers to trade through 1) Strengthening trade data tracking and analysis & rapid impact assessments on COVID-19 on businesses 2) Organizing Private sector consultations and developing proposals for Public-Private Dialogue developed 3) Rolling out advocacy through media to build awareness of the impact of COVID-19 and recovery strategies for businesses in the EAC, through robust media advocacy.
Tourism, transport & logistics are among the sectors that were heavily negatively impacted by COVID-19 pandemic. East African Community Partner States lost 4.2 billion international tourism receipts in 2020 and over 2 million jobs in the tourism sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the positive side, UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, shows international tourism saw a 182% year-on-year increase in January-March 2022. Africa saw a +96% strong growth in Q1 2022 compared to 2021. The pandemic has taught businesses to be more ready in responding to future shocks and upscale the adoption of digital tools such as e-commerce to improve resilience.
The EAC bloc is resilient, rebounding and records positive economic growth amid the pandemic. World Bank Global Economic Prospects June 2022 forecasts real GDP growth as follows: Burundi 2.5%, Kenya 5.5%, Tanzania 5.3%, Rwanda 6.8%, Uganda 3.7% and South Sudan -0.8.
Investing more in agriculture, Financing a regional fund for unenforceable shocks, Improving regional health infrastructure & vaccination; Liberalization of EAC Airspace, Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers and Fiscal incentives are among the top priorities businesses are advising the Governments of the EAC Partner State to implement to hasten business continuity and growth amid the pandemic and future disruptions.
The EABC -TMEA Safe Trade Project has recorded the following successes stories:
1. The EAC Council of Ministers agreed to facilitate free movements of goods and services in the region by allowing free movement of cargo across EAC borders during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic
2. EABC’s organized virtual webinars and surveys, studies and briefs on the impact of COVID-19 on Finance, Tourism, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Transport & Logistics sectors. The key recommendations of the studies were adopted by the EAC Secretariat in the EAC Post COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan in order to cushion businesses from the impact of COVID-19.
3. Due to COVID-19 countries having restricted air transport services, EABC successfully advocated for the resumption of air transport services in the EAC.
4. EABC successfully called upon EAC Partner States to mutually recognize COVID-19 certificates and measures.
- EABC successfully resolved COVID-19-related NTBs that led long traffic jam of trucks at the borders of Namanga, Malaba and Busia borders.
- EAC Partner States have now uplifted COVID-19 re-testing for fully vaccinated passengers.