The East African Women in Business Platform members have successfully negotiated an agreement with the International Trade Centre (ITC) to increase market access for their products in the European Union.

That comes after the group held a recent round-table discussion with Ms. Arancha Gonzalez, who is the Executive Director of ITC, ahead of the official launch of the Market Access Upgrade project (MARKUP) at the EAC Headquarters, reflecting on the successes, challenges, and impact of the ongoing EAC regional integration process to businesses.

The discussions highlighted the importance of harmonization of standards in the region, which the EABC has been taking lead in advocating on behalf of the Private Sector in the region, to increase intra-EAC trade, improve product quality and maintain competiveness in regional and international markets.

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The roundtable attracted EABC and EAWiBP members working in different sectors and sub-sectors including technology, consultancy, transport, manufacturing, horticulture, and agro-processing, among others.

EAWiBP Regional Coordinator, Nancy Gitonga underscored the importance of linking women in business to different market opportunities and improving their skills through trainings.
She said that EAWiBP has successfully developed a contact database of 10,000 women in business in the EAC region.

The EABC Executive Director, Lilian Awinja says they have sought for practical ways of increasing market access of EAC products to the EU for EAC products like; coffee, flowers, tobacco, tea, fish, vegetables and precious metal ores among others.

According to ITC, the EAC region exported goods worth approximately US $2.5 billion in 2017, an increase of eight per cent in comparison with US$2.3 billion in 2016.

According to Gonzales, ITC has made trade more inclusive through the ‘She Trade Programme’ by connecting together over one million women in business from different countries.

The Director of Productive Sectors of the EAC Jean Baptiste says that to tap into the EU market the region needs to benchmark standards with the ones of the European Union and East African products and should meet the requirements of the European consumers.

Meanwhile, the former East African Business Council (EABC) Board says the agency has made headway in advocating for the removal of non-tariff barriers such as roadblocks, improvement of the transport network in the region and simplification of border procedures. This, he says, has facilitated cross-border trade and improved the transport sector.