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EAC countries unveil innovative platform to eliminate non-tariff barriers 

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The East African Community (EAC) has unveiled a new app dedicated to the elimination of non-tariff barriers (NTBs), the EAC said in a statement.

The statement noted the innovative app unveiled at the EAC headquarters in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha is set to revolutionize the region’s trading landscape by streamlining the reporting, monitoring, and resolution of impediments traders face as they conduct business across borders.

According to the statement, the development of the app was funded by the government of the Netherlands through TradeMark Africa, a leading African Aid-for-Trade organization that aims to grow intra-African trade and increase Africa’s share in global trade.

The statement said the app, seamlessly blending SMS, email, and phone reporting methods, offers economic operators a one-stop solution for effectively reporting NTBs to trade.

“By streamlining the NTB reporting process, the app will aid traders and producers in tackling obstacles that impede their trade efficiency and competitiveness,” said the statement.

Combining SMS, email, and phone reporting features, the EAC NTBs App is a comprehensive solution for the effective reporting of trade-related Non-Tariff Barriers.

It aims to assist traders and producers in addressing issues that affect their trade efficiency and competitiveness. The app also promises transparency and swift resolution of problems by involving various technical and policy mechanisms, including National Focal Points, the National Monitoring Committees (NMCs), and the Regional Monitoring Committee (RMC).

At the launch event, Ms. Annette Ssemuwemba, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Customs, Trade and Monetary Affairs, emphasized the significance of the app in creating a seamless trading environment across the EAC region.

She noted the app’s role in empowering traders and producers by providing a unified platform to address and resolve NTBs.

The Deputy Secretary General highlighted the crucial importance of removing NTBs in promoting a more efficient and equitable trade environment. She identified procedural complexities and administrative hurdles as typical barriers that hinder the smooth flow of goods and services across borders.

Benedict Musengele, Director of Trade Policy and Trade Facilitation at TradeMark Africa, also emphasized the organization’s commitment to developing a vibrant trade environment conducive to economic growth and regional integration. He described the app as a strategic solution in the realm of digital trade.

NTBs have long been a challenge for traders and producers, reducing profits and limiting market access. The EAC has made significant progress in this area, resolving 89.5% of reported NTBs since 2017, according to the EAC Time Bound Programme report of 2023.

The EAC NTBs App supports reporting in English, Swahili, and French and is available for download on the Apple Store, Google’s Play Store, and other Android platforms. This app is a major step towards enhancing the business environment in the region and effectively resolving NTBs.

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