Encouraging Cross- border Trade in Agricultural Products

Encouraging Cross- border Trade in Agricultural Products

Although many governments are reorienting their economies towards more open market regimes, the region’s agricultural productivity and cross-border trade are yet to enter a stable growth path and resilience to the impacts of global markets and climate change, according to a new study.

The study  titled  Analysis of Cross- border Trade in Agricultural Products along selected Corridors of the Nile Basin Region  was produced under the auspices of the Nile Basin Imitative Secretariat in Entebbe Uganda, (see our lead story).

According to the study, achievement of broad based and sustainable economic growth in the region has been elusive largely due to challenges relating to: the poor state of infrastructure; underdevelopment of agriculture arising from low investments in the sector.

There is also low use of productivity enhancing inputs, particularly improved seeds and fertilizer, and over-reliance on rain-fed production; policy related issues such as low institutional capacity for implementation, corruption and policy reversals; persistence of non-tariff trade barriers;
vulnerability to external shocks; and, poor coordination of preparation and response to natural disasters.

These challenges need urgent attention by governments and managers of the agricultural sector along the Nile basin corridor since majority of the people along the Nile Basin depend on agriculture for their livelihood.

Many of the Nile Basin countries signed the East Africa  protocol  which was launched in 2005 and took effect in 2010. The policy was designed to encourage intra-regional trade in agricultural produce. It provides for elimination of custom duties and other charges of equivalent effect, elimination of non-tariff barriers to trade among Partner States and establishment of a Common External Tariff (CET) applicable to all goods imported into the Partner States from third countries. The Customs Protocol further provides for the EAC rules of origin, national treatment and safeguards measures for goods from Partner States and trade in the region.

The Common External Tariff was established so as to protect regional products from external competition. Its establishment meant that goods to and from Uganda and Tanzania would be duty free, goods from Uganda and Tanzania into Kenya would be duty free and specific goods from Kenya into Uganda and Tanzania would attract duty under the program of gradually eliminating internal tariff in five years.

In most borders, fruits and vegetables are zero-rated though the Uganda customs at Malaba charges about US$ 1 per bunch for bananas exported to Kenya.

We at The East Africa Agribusiness Magazine urged the East Africa Community member countries to enforce the EAC protocol and Common External Tariff to promote agricultural trade. This will improve the lives of the people,s of East Africa the majority of whom are farmers.

Look out for our website for more information about agriculture in East Africa.

Our dear esteemed readers look out for our next issue in which we shall analysis for you the grains cross- border trade.

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About Graduate Farmers

TGFA is a civil society organization whose membership base constitute highly learned, capable, experienced and aspirants of becoming commercial farmers in Tanzania. Membership also comprises agricultural consultants (researchers) and retired people from the civil service sectors who deal with agriculture and agriculture marketing in general. The major aim of TGFA is to develop, promote, and influence structured business and initiatives that encourages and motivate youth especially graduates to tap in profitable agriculture value chains in both rural and urban areas in Tanzania with defined rules and regulations. TGFA also aimed at bringing dialogues for advocating improvement of the policy and enabling business environment in the country economy, strengthen information dissemination, technology and innovation, agribusiness development skills, business linkages and reduce constraints along the sector value chain. The word ‘graduate’, as it appears on the title, does not strictly mean that one has to have university degree, rather a catch word that connotes a paradigm shift in thinking, especially in the developing countries, that farming is largely for the unprivileged, most less educated and poor people in rural areas towards a new thinking that farming can only be meaningful and actual backbone of the economy if and only if the highly learned, capable (in terms of finances and other resources) and inspired individuals in urban areas embark into it even as part-timers.
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