East African Community Secretariat and TradeMark Africa have introduced a mobile application tool dubbed the EAC NTBs App aimed at fostering regional integration and facilitate smoother cross-border trade in the region.
This innovative app, aimed at eliminating Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), is poised to transform the region’s trading landscape by simplifying the reporting, monitoring, and resolution of obstacles faced by traders.
Funded by the Netherlands through TradeMark Africa, the EAC NTBs App integrates SMS, email, and phone reporting methods into a unified platform.
This comprehensive solution enables economic operators to effectively report NTBs, facilitating the swift resolution of issues through engagement with National Focal Points, National Monitoring Committees (NMCs), and the Regional Monitoring Committee (RMC).
Annette Ssemuwemba, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Customs, Trade, and Monetary Affairs, expressed during the app’s launch that it signifies a pivotal moment in creating a seamless trading environment across the EAC region.
She highlighted the commitment to eradicating barriers hindering economic growth and integration.
The removal of NTBs is seen as crucial in fostering a more efficient and equitable trade environment, as these barriers, often in the form of procedural complexities or administrative hurdles, obstruct the smooth flow of goods and services across borders.
Ms Ssemuwemba highlighted the app’s role in empowering the private sector to report and track the progress of NTBs, envisioning it as a turning point in effectively identifying and resolving such barriers.
Benedict Musengele, Director of Trade Policy and Trade Facilitation at TradeMark Africa, underscored the agency’s commitment to fostering a vibrant trade environment that propels economic growth and regional integration.
He hailed the app as a testament to providing strategic solutions in digital trade.
Non-Tariff Barriers pose a significant challenge for traders and producers, impacting profits and limiting market access.
According to a recent EAC Regional Meeting Committee (RMC) report in 2023, the direct costs of NTBs were estimated at $16.7 million with a total trade impact of $94 million resulting in an average trade decrease of 58 percent.
However, the EAC has made strides in addressing NTBs, resolving 89.5 percent of reported cases since 2017.
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.