Cross-Border Trade Body to Boost Regional Trade in East Africa

Kenya has moved to boost trade between her and the neighbours following the launch of a Trade Association aimed at facilitating trade in the East African Community region.

The launch of Kenya’s National Cross Border Trade Association recently the Government believes will boost trade between Kenya and her neighbours.

Kenyan Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Trade Abdulrazaq Ali says the importance of cross border trade, particularly the role of informal small scale traders cannot be understated in the national economy hence the body’s importance.

“The informal cross border trade currently accounts for about 30% to 60% of all inter-regional trade. Evidence further shows that over 50% of intra regional trade is conducted through the informal cross border trade, particularly those trading in agricultural products,” he says.

He said the launch of the body has been necessitated by the fact that informal cross-border trade is an important source of employment and its pivotal role as an income generating activity that sustains many families.

“…the role of small scale traders in supplying food across the common borders is very crucial and deserves special attention,” he said.

Ali says the body will facilitate a united approach to effectively address challenges witnessed by traders when trading across the borders.

There are now five (5) Cross Border Trade Associations (CBTAs) at the Kenya/Uganda and Kenya/Tanzania borders. Other CBTAs are expected to be established in the Kenya/Sudan and Kenya/Ethiopia borders.

Among the key challenges of cross border traders include limited market access; informality of small scale traders; cumbersome export and import procedures; and lack of information or information asymmetry.

These associations Ali says will be replicated across other five national borders with its neighbours. They will then be amalgamated into one regional trade association.

“Owing to the identified crucial roles of informal cross border traders, COMESA Member States have agreed on the need to establish Cross Border Trade Associations (CBTAs) in EA and then bring the state’s CBTA together to establish Cross Border Trade to spearhead pertinent issues affecting EA.