The East African Community (EAC) is urged to develop a common COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate by December to hasten the economic recovery of the EAC bloc.

This is one of the resolutions of the Round Table Meeting for Chief Executive Officers of apex national private sector associations convened by the East African Business Council today, in Nairobi, Kenya.

Mr. John Bosco Kalisa, EABC CEO said “EAC COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate enables mutual recognition and eliminates the current high transaction costs of COVID-19 testing and will boost intra-EAC trade, travel and tourism.”

Mrs. Carole Kariuki, CEO of KEPSA said, “KEPSA rolled out COVID-19 vaccination drive for the private sector and today we agreed to undertake similar drives across all EAC Partner States.”

Mrs. Carole Kariuki, also called for closer private sector collaboration in marketing and boosting the competitiveness of made-in-East African products to the larger African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) market.

The Chief Guest, EABC Chairman Nick Nesbitt, said the EAC bloc is the most integrated regional economic community in Africa and elaborated the vaccine roll-out strategy for the region.

On his part Mr. Francis Kisirinya, Ag. CEO of Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) called for deeper public-private dialogue at the country and regional level to ensure policies are business-centered.

Mr. Nshimirimana Denis, Secretary-General of Federal Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Burundi (CFCIB), urged for Buy East African Build East Africa campaigns to boost intra-EAC trade.

Mrs. Mary Ngechu, EABC Board Director said SMEs compose over 80% of businesses in the region, COVID-19 calls for structured engagement for SMEs at both country and regional level to inform policies in order to scale up their economic contribution and recovery.

Mrs. Ngechu called for consolidation and aggregation of SMEs to boost product volumes and leverage on the regional and continental value chains.

Mr. Kalisa commended the high-level bilateral engagements by EAC Heads of State for resolving Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs). The Kenya-Tanzania Bilateral Engagement has resolved 72 NTBs. He further called for the amendment of the NTBs Act to include sanctions and clear timelines to resolve NTBs.

Ms. Waturi Matu, TMEA Senior Private Sector Technical Advisor to EAC recommended uniform implementation of COVID-19 protocols and amicable solutions to re-open closed borders in the EAC bloc.

Mr. Francis Nanai, CEO of Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) stated that sensitization on the benefits of the AfCFTA is important following the recent ratification by the United Republic of Tanzania while Mr. Juma Charles said South Sudan Chambers of Commerce Industries and Agriculture is engaging the respective ministry of foreign affairs to implement the commitments under the EAC Customs Union Protocol. He elaborated that the removal of visa fees for Uganda and Kenya by South Sudan is set to ease the free movement of persons.

The Round Table Meeting agreed to hold quarterly engagements to address new & chronic trade issues and share best practices and appreciated the goodwill from the EAC Secretary-General to steer private sector-led integration via the EAC-EABC Technical Working Group and urged EAC Partner States to amend article 24 of the Customs Union protocol to operationalize the EAC Trade Remedies Committees tasked to resolve trade disputes.

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