Africa-Press – Eritrea. The East African Community (EAC) exports to the European Union hit $2.8 billion in 2020, it was announced here yesterday.
That is as projections indicate that products from the region have greater potential to penetrate the huge EU market through value addition.
“There should be deliberate efforts for the promotion of value addition and industrialisation to increase the bloc’s exports,” said Mr John Bosco Kalisa, the executive director of the East African Business Council (EABC).
He revealed this during a visit to the EABC offices in Arusha on Monday by Mr Manfredo Fanti, the EU Ambassador to Tanzania and the EAC.
According to him, the EU exports to the EAC bloc during 2020 stood at $ 4.5 billion while imports from the then six-nation bloc were $ 2.6 billion.
That was a significant increase as the EAC exports to the EU for the previous year (2019) stood at $2.3 billion while the imports were valued at $ 4.29 billion.
EAC’s top exports to the EU include coffee, tea, flowers, tobacco, vegetable and fish while imports are machinery, electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals and vehicles.
Mr Kalisa briefed Mr Fanti on how the region was impacted by Covid-19 noting, however, that intra-EAC trade exhibited resilience during the serious phase of the pandemic.
He expounded that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) joining the EAC will boost the industrialis ation base of the expanded economic bloc.
Discussions by the two included: capacity building of trade facilitation agencies, digitalisation of customs and evidence-based research.
Others are the implementation of the 40 million Euro Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP),launched in June 2018 through the technical and financial support of the EU and other partners.
The programme aims to assist the farmers in the East African region to secure better markets for their produce abroad, specifically the EU
Mr Fanti who yesterday attended the climax of the World Press Freedom Day event here rooted for strategies to boost business and investment ties between the EA region and the EU.
“Predictable, legal and administrative frameworks will lure more European investors into the EAC bloc,” he said.
He was also briefed on the efforts being made by the EABC, an apex body of private sector associations, to eliminate non-tariff barriers (NTBs) hampering intra-regional trade.