Since the establishment of the East African Community (EAC), comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, the region has seen a steady strengthening of economic and political ties among the community's Partner States. The EAC Customs Union came into force in 2005, facilitating the establishment of a common external tariff and paving the way for the removal of all intra-regional tariffs by 2010. Despite this, available trade statistics paint a mixed picture about the impact of the EAC on intra-regional trade. Although the establishment of the EAC coincided with an important expansion in intra-regional trade in absolute terms, overall intra-EAC exports did not grow as a share of the region's total exports. In addition, the persistence of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) still affects trade flows, and reduces the benefits to be gained from the regional integration process.
The third briefing from a project examining the magnitude of NTBs affecting trade in the EAC and assessing the impact of their removal, this paper explores the difference between NTBs and 'complaints' identified and reported to the EAC, and suggests a way to streamline the process so that NTBs can be more quickly and easily resolved and intra-regional trade enhanced.