Kenyan manufacturers have today called on Government to address gaps that will hinder them from benefitting from the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This was during the launch of the KAM Study Findings on the Implications of AfCFTA on Kenyan Products.
Speaking during the event, KAM Ag CEO Tobias Alando observed that whereas the trade agreement provides the best opportunity to realize our regional, national and business goals, Kenya is yet to put in place mechanisms to ensure the country takes full advantage of the benefits it presents.
“Kenya’s export market in Africa is expected to increase with the full implementation of AfCFTA. However, if unaddressed, challenges such as dwindling country competitiveness, lack of product competitiveness, supply chain constraints, unconducive business environment as well as institutional and infrastructural constraints shall hinder local manufacturers from reaping the benefits that come with AfCFTA.”
Mr Alando gave recommendations to enable Kenyan manufacturers to thrive under the trade agreement, saying, “At the firm level, Kenya’s business community needs to develop export strategies for various trade agreements including EAC, COMESA and AfCFTA; implement business development programs to penetrate and expand to new markets and develop capacity to be able to meet the demands of the African markets. At the national level, we urge Government to prioritize the conclusion of pending areas in the negotiations; work on competitiveness drivers to ensure Kenya takes advantage of the African market and fully implement the National AfCFTA Strategy.”
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Deputy Commissioner, Marketing and Communications Ms. Grace Wandera, expressed optimism that the country will be better positioned to trade under AfCFTA.
“At KRA, we are putting in place initiatives to ease trade. We have automated our services, which shall reduce the time spent clearing cargo and bring down costs incurred by traders. Additionally, we remain cognizant of the benefits that come with AfCFTA, such as job creation, movement of goods and skills transfer. As such, this will require tariff harmonization, capacity building on requirements to trade under the regime, simplification and automation of processes. We have also set up call centers at all border points to support traders and ensure efficient service delivery.”
AfCFTA Negotiator at the State Department for Trade, Mr. Josiah Rotich observed that the implementation of AfCFTA is on track, “To date, 54 African Union member States have signed the AfCFTA Agreement, whereas 49 Member States have ratified the Agreement. These Member States are eligible to trade under AfCFTA preferential trade arrangement which came into effect from 1st January 2021. 46 Member States, including the four Customs Union (Central African Economic and Monetary Community – CEMAC, Southern African Customs Union – SACU, EAC and ECOWAS), have submitted their tariff offers, out of which 30 have been verified.”
The KAM study on the implementation of the AfCFTA sought to inform local manufacturers on the implications and expected impact of the EAC-AfCFTA tariff liberalization on Kenya’s manufacturing sector. It also seeks to inform the industry on the country’s trade potential with other regional Economic Communities (RECs) and potential competitors.