MAKING TRADE WORKS FOR DEVELOPMENT AND POVERTY REDUCTION IN THE EAC.

The quest for industrialization and structural transformation is even stronger given the changing international trade landscape. Currently, international trade is being shaped by reciprocal and largely asymmetrical Free Trade Agreements. The EAC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is one of such agreements. Over the years, many trade analysts, civil society, farmers and manufacturers have raised concerns on the inherent dangers of the EPA on EAC’s value addition, industrialization and structural transformation efforts.  It is therefore important to reassess nature of Trade policies and agreements which can be able to promote industrialization and structural transformation for inclusive and sustainable development in the EAC.

Outcome: EACSOF and Seatini Uganda Assess the Nature of Trade Policies and Agreements in regards to Industrialization and Structural Transformation in the EAC.

 EACSOF was invited to a meeting organized by the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI-Uganda). The meeting was held in Kampala –Uganda on 6th -7th October 2016. This meeting was called upon mainly to discuss matters concerning the future of industrialization and structural transformation in the EAC in the context of trade policies and agreements.

Therefore, there is a need to ensure that trade works for development and poverty reduction in the EAC. In order to achieve this, promoting agriculture production and agro-processing and reduction of trade deficit are pivotal. The role played by industrialization and trade policies and agreements cannot be overlooked in this.  Indeed, with youth unemployment index swinging between 65% and 80% within some member states of the EAC, and limited intra-regional trade currently at 12 percent, achieving structural transformation through industrialization remains a challenge. It is against this backdrop that countries like Uganda and Kenya have adopted initiatives like the Buy Uganda Build Uganda, Buy Kenya Build Kenya respectively, in a bid to promote their nascent industries and domestic production. Therefore, it is important to put in place policies and frameworks at national and EAC level that are supportive of industrialization and structural transformation strategies.

The meeting assessed the nature of trade policies and agreements that can deliver industrialization and structural transformation in the EAC. Examined the strategies for revitalizing industrialization and structural transformation in the EAC. Recognized the implications of the EPA on industrialization and structural transformation in the EAC.

EACSOF gained knowledge on the different levels of economic development achieved by the EAC partner states and also the impact of the economic agreements such as the EPA. EACSOF also formed various Alliances, with the various organisations.

Way forward:

CSOs should advocate for improved the economic agreements formulated at regional level that work to bring development and eradicate the problem of poverty to the citizens of EAC.

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