The U.S.-EAC Cooperation Agreement on Trade Facilitation, SPS, and TBT commits both the EAC and the United States to three objectives:
IMPLEMENT THE WTO’s TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT
- The Agreement commits the parties to cooperate on customs issues, including the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, reducing red tape and unnecessary formalities at borders decreasing border release times, and implementing other positive reforms laid out in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement to help streamline and facilitate trade. This will build on the EAC’s own work on customs reforms, which have resulted in substantial reductions in the time and costs of moving goods across borders within the EAC. For instance, container transit times from Mombasa, Kenya, to Kigali, Rwanda have declined from 21 days several years ago to six days, while associated transport costs are down by over $1,700 per container.
ENHANCING FOOD SAFETY, PLANT AND ANIMAL HEALTH
- The Agreement provides for U.S.-EAC cooperation and capacity building related to food safety and animal and plant health standards. While a majority of the region’s people are involved in agricultural production or processing, the export potential of these products is currently limited. The Cooperation Agreement will help the EAC meet international standards by bringing U.S. technological expertise to bear and fully implement the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, which will help the EAC Partner States increase food security and create additional export opportunities for products produced in the region.
BUILD CAPACITY TO MEET GLOBAL STANDARDS
- The Agreement provides for U.S.-EAC cooperation and capacity related to technical regulations, standards, testing, and certification – for example, by helping to train East African standards officials and developing electronic systems for engaging the public and interested stakeholders on new proposed technical regulations. This will help increase the EAC partner States’ ability to meet international quality and safety standards by improving full implement of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. Both U.S. and African international competitiveness is enhanced when countries meet international standards and avoid unnecessary differences among technical regulations and standards developed independently and separately by each nation, national standards organization, or company.
PROGRESS RESULTING FROM TRADE AFRICA INITIATIVE
- Enhanced U.S.-EAC private sector engagement under the Commercial Dialogue.
- The establishment of a new five-year, $64 million Trade and Investment Hub in East Africa focused on: i) increasing exports under AGOA to the United States, to regional partners, and to the rest of the world, ii) facilitating investment and access to the newest technologies and expertise to priority development sectors, iii) expanding and diversifying regional agricultural trade and food security, and iv) supporting the implementation of regional integration policies adopted by the EAC.