Exporters of locally manufactured products have been tasked to familiarize with the regional export procedures and standards that will validate their commodities on the regional and international markets.
According to the East African Community’s (EAC) Common Market Protocol, exporters must get rules of origin, certificates among other documents. The certificate gives credit to the country of origin and the same time ensures exemptions on import duty. As part of the integration, Partner States agreed that goods to and from EAC shall be duty free.
Speaking to local media on the procedures of trade standards in the region, Principal Economist at the Ministry of East African Affairs Annette Namara explained that rules of origin is one way to ensure uniformity among Partner States.
She pointed out that goods that come with a Rules of Origin certificate ensure that the custom process is transparent, accountable, fair, predictable and consistent with the provisions of the EAC Common Market Protocol.
What this means is that traders within the EAC block must ensure that their products meet high standards including, sanitary, packaging, labeling, weights, and content. A few local processors are already taking advantage of the specifications on the EAC market.
Star Café is a coffee processing company that came on the Ugandan Market 15 years ago, and is an example of local products that have already attained international standards. Lameck Kiyiimba, the Head of Sales and Marketing at the Star Café says that to ensure that the product meets the required standards, a selection of the right coffee bean has to start in the farm. While in the factory high sanitary and packaging standards have to be adhered to.
He explains that the product has to be packaged in quality bags, mostly considering that some countries in the EAC have a ban on thin plastic packaging.
The coffee is sold mainly in the East African Region, Central and West Africa and locally in hotels and retail stores. Namara says that for trade to prosper within the EAC Partner States should work towards eliminating all non-tariff barriers, and ensure that no new non-tariff barriers would be imposed.