The East Africa Legislative Assembly recently enacted the Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs) act setting the stage for a more concerted effort against the negative effects of NTBs on intra-regional trade. The bill now awaits assent by the EAC's five heads of state.
NTBs are restrictions that make importing or exporting goods more difficult or costly as a result of measures taken by governments that are not tariffs in nature. Such measures could take the form of government laws, regulations, policies, conditions, restrictions or specific requirements, private sector business practices, or other measures to protect local industries from foreign competition.
Principally, the enacted NTB Bill provides a legal framework for enforcing the removal of Non-Tariff Barriers through the establishment of dispute resolution mechanisms with the possibility of sanctions against offending states.
It is now official Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) shall soon be a thing of the past following the enactment of the EAC Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers Bill, 2015 by EALA...
The Bill according to the Council seeks to give effect to Article 13 of the Protocol on the Establishment of the EAC Customs Union in which Partner States agreed to remove with immediate effect, all existing NTBs to the importation into their respective territories of goods originating in the Partner States. At the same time, this would have the effect of not imposing any new NTBs. The Council Bill also sought to establish a mechanism for identifying and monitoring the removal of NTBs within the Partner States.
Source: EAC Website. Read more...
Once passed, the NTB bill will compel partner states to eliminate barriers and end protectionism that has hindered smooth trade in the EAC.
Here is what Jose Maciel, Regional Trade and Integration Director at TradeMark East Africa had to say about the passing of the bill:
Once implemented, the NTBs Bill will provide a new dimension to trade in East Africa, with additional transparency and predictability for the private sector. Ultimately, we would like to see this bill generating positive impact for East Africans. This could take place, for example, by seeing that the costs savings due to a reduction in NTBs are passed on to the consumer, particularly those located in the landlocked countries.
USAID partner TradeMark East Africa is supporting the EAC Secretariat and the Partner States in the process to implement the EALA-enacted NTBs Bill.
For more insights on NTBs and trade policy and regulation in East Africa in general, read "The Policy and Regulatory Environment in East Africa: Nuts and Bots", by the Hub's trade policy expert.