The Australian High Commissioner to Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, Alison Chartres, on Friday presented her credentials to the East African Community (EAC) Secretary General, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, stating that the country’s firms were interested in investing in agriculture, mining and renewable energy sectors in the region.
The High Commissioner described the EAC as a big market that would definitely be attractive to Australian investors.
She, however, urged EAC Partner States to allow for international arbitration mechanisms to provide for referral of business disputes, adding that Australian companies needed assurances that there were provisions for international arbitration in the national statutes.
“Investments need to be mutually beneficial to all parties, local and international. We therefore need stable regulatory frameworks to ensure that risks for investors were manageable,” said Ms. Chartres.
Ms. Chartres said that Australia was keen on free trade and was highly encouraged by the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the coming into force of the EAC Single Customs Territory (SCT).
She said the AfCFTA and EAC SCT would go a long way in promoting trade in Africa and the East African region but trade with other parts of the world including Australia as well.
Welcoming the Australian High Commissioner at the EAC headquarters, Mfumukeko said that the balance of trade between the EAC and Australia was largely in favour of Australia.
He said that EAC countries import agricultural equipment and machinery from Australia while exports to Australian consist of tea, coffee and flowers.
He said that the EAC has many investment opportunities including agriculture, infrastructure development, tourism and mining.
The Secretary General told the Australian diplomat that the EAC was working with the East African Business Council, the umbrella body of private sector organisations in East Africa, to improve the investment climate in the region, adding that a regional portal for investors in East Africa was also being finalized.
He said that the EAC had also facilitated the signing of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) to promote the free movement of professionals in the region, adding that among the professions that had signed MRAs so far were medical doctors, engineers, architects and veterinary doctors.
He said there was a firm commitment at the political level to make the Customs Union, Common Market and Monetary Union protocols work.