Nairobi — Uganda is lobbying for increased efforts to make doing business within the East African Community region easier.
The country, in particular, will advocate for the harmonization of non-tariff barriers within the region in order to facilitate trade between the six-country block.
Non-tariff barriers, among other things, impede free movement of goods and services within the region and have been blamed for the slow realization of the EAC dream.
Uganda, a landlocked country, is in the process of establishing Special Economic Zones (SEZs), and Ugandan Members of Parliament and senior government representatives have been touring Kenya to learn best practices in SEZ operationalization and to lobby for friendlier terms of doing business.
Late last week, Uganda’s Permanent Secretary for Treasury, Ramathan Ggoobi, led a third delegation to Tatu City, Kenya’s first operational SEZ, for a benchmarking tour.
The visit followed one by Uganda’s National Assembly’s Finance Committee earlier that week, as the country rushes to establish the necessary legal and operational framework for SEZs.
“Tatu City emerged from our conversations with Uganda’s SEZ Authority and Kenya Investment Authority. We are here because Kenya is a leader in Special Economic Zones and we believe Tatu City will provide us with a good opportunity to learn a few things, especially on best practices of creating an environment for investors, which is comfortable, competitive and gives them a good return on investment,” PS Ggboobi said.
During a briefing session with the Ugandan delegation, Tatu City’s Executive Vice President Solomon Mahinda described the benchmarking visit as a demonstration by the EAC Community of a readiness to collaborate among members, and, most importantly, to accelerate the ease of doing business within member states.
“There is enormous potential for regional cooperation on the regulatory environment for SEZs to spur investment, trade and, most importantly, job creation. This consultative approach amongst EAC member states at government level, where there’s active participation by public and private sector players, increases our confidence that the region is on the right trajectory towards creating a conducive investment environment,” said Mahinda.
On Tuesday last week, another delegation from Uganda’s Parliamentary Finance Committee visited Tatu City and expressed a desire to accelerate efforts to harmonize trade regulations within the EAC to support the region’s growth and development.
The visit followed a similar one by the country’s Parliamentary Budget Committee in July, all aimed at guiding the country to formulate laws and policies to guide the development of SEZs in Uganda.