Latest Central Bank of Kenya data shows that the country’s exports to the East African Community (EAC) member countries were the highest in 2019 in six years. Kenya sold goods worth Sh120.43 billion to Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, an increase of nearly Sh11.01 billion, or 10.06 percent, in the January-December 2019 period.
The jump in exports is attributed to easing of trade tensions between the neighbouring countries, giving testament as to why economic integration matters. Tariff and non-tariff trade barriers are major roadblocks to countries reaping benefits of integration. While from time to time it may be necessary for a country to apply some non-tariff barriers to safeguard against risks to health or security, sometimes the measures taken are simply nationalistic protectionism in disguise that impede free movement of goods and people.
Similarly, some of the regional trade disputes have taken years to resolve, derailing integration and denying citizens from enjoying the benefits.
It is therefore necessary that countries align their interests and priorities to the jointly agreed EAC policies and mechanisms.