The EAC Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance, and Investment (SCTIFI) convened in Moshi, United Republic of Tanzania from 28th March to 1st April 2023, to deliberate on crucial issues pertaining to industrial development and economic growth.
With a comprehensive agenda encompassing various sectors, the meeting aimed to assess the progress made in the implementation of strategic initiatives and policy frameworks.
The meeting which was attended by representatives from East Africa Community member states, also considered the progress of the reports of the implementation of the directives in the sector, Cotton, Textiles and Apparel (CTA) Strategy; Leather & Leather Products Strategy and Automotive Industry Action Plan.
The following were the key agenda items of the meeting:
- Consideration of progress on cotton, textiles, and apparel strategy;
The council commenced by evaluating the advancement of the Cotton, Textiles, and Apparel Strategy, which aims to enhance the competitiveness of the textile industry within the EAC. By encouraging collaboration among member states, the strategy seeks to harness the region’s potential for textile production and export promotion. The meeting acknowledged achievements made thus far and emphasized the need for continued efforts to overcome challenges and foster sustainable growth in this sector.
The Sectoral Council also made proposals on textile and textile articles to be moved to maximum band to stimulate local production; expand the harmonized Cotton, Textiles and Apparels (CTA) articles under duty remission
- Consideration of progress on Implementation of the Leather and Products Strategy;
The SCTIFI also examined the progress made in implementing the Leather and Products Strategy. Recognizing the significance of the leather industry as a source of employment and revenue, the council emphasized the importance of creating an enabling environment for the sector’s growth. Enhancing value addition, promoting quality standards, and exploring export opportunities were identified as key focus areas to boost the leather industry across the EAC.
- Consideration of progress on implementation of Automotive Industry Action Plan;
The council discussed the Automotive Industry Action Plan, which seeks to stimulate the growth of the automotive sector within the region. Through supporting local production and assembly of vehicles, the plan aims to reduce import dependence and drive economic development. Participants deliberated on the achievements made thus far and identified areas where additional interventions and support are required to accelerate progress and enhance competitiveness.
- Consideration of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Development;
Recognizing the vital role of MSMEs in driving economic growth and employment generation, the SCTIFI dedicated a segment to discuss the development of these enterprises. The council acknowledged the need for tailored policies and interventions to empower MSMEs, including access to finance, capacity building, market access facilitation, and the creation of a conducive business environment. The discussions centred on identifying strategies to enhance the growth and sustainability of MSMEs across the EAC.
- Consideration of progress on review of the EAC Industrialization Policy Implementation Action Plan;
In an effort to ensure effective implementation of the EAC Industrialization Policy, the council assessed the progress made in reviewing the associated implementation action plan. By reviewing the plan, the EAC aims to align its industrialization efforts with the changing regional and global economic landscape, fostering a competitive and resilient industrial sector.
- Progress Report on EAC/GIZ program fruits and vegetables value chain program in selected value chains: Fruits and Vegetables;
The council received a progress report on the EAC/GIZ Program in the Fruits and Vegetables Value Chain. The program, aimed at enhancing value addition, market access, and quality standards within the fruits and vegetables sector, was commended for its positive impact. The council emphasized the importance of continued collaboration and support for sustainable growth and market penetration of the region’s fruits and vegetables industry.
The UMA was tasked to develop Regional Export Guidelines and Industry Code of Conduct to promote acceptability of its products internationally and undertake capacity building for the stakeholders on these guidelines by September 2024.
- Progress report on implementation of pharmaceutical manufacturing plan of action;
The SCTIFI also reviewed the progress made in implementing the pharmaceutical manufacturing plan of action. Recognizing the strategic importance of a robust pharmaceutical sector, the council underscored the need for policy interventions to support local pharmaceutical production, promote access to affordable medicines, and reduce dependency on imports. The discussions emphasized the importance of creating an enabling environment and fostering partnerships to enhance the pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity within the EAC.
The EAC Secretariat outlined two specific next steps to drive progress.
Firstly, the Ugandan Manufacturers Association (UMA) has been tasked with organizing a meeting with the pharmaceuticals sector to address the tariff split of chapters 30.03 and 30.04. The objective is to understand the potential impact on the sector and develop suitable strategies to mitigate any adverse consequences.
Secondly, the creation of a comprehensive database of importers and producers of textiles and garments, along with their value chains, has been proposed. This database will serve as a valuable resource for policy formulation and decision-making, enabling the EAC Secretariat to consolidate and streamline efforts to support the growth of the sector.
Conclusively, the SCTIFI meeting in Moshi showcased the commitment of the EAC member states towards advancing industrial growth in key sectors.
The EAC aims to foster regional integration, promote economic development, and unlock the potential of industries vital to the prosperity of the community through reviewing progress, discussing challenges, and formulating concrete action plans,
Collaboration and continued efforts towards implementing the discussed strategies will be crucial in driving sustainable industrialization within the EAC.