As part of efforts to facilitate elimination/reduction of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) that businessmen experience in intra-EAC1 trade, the East African Business Council (EABC) set up an ad-hoc working group in 2003, which recommended that actions to facilitate monitoring and removal of such trade hindrances need to be identified. As part of efforts to act on this recommendation, the EABC in 2004 initiated the Business Climate Index Survey (BCI) for East Africa2. The main aim of the BCI survey was to identify the nature and scope of NTBs experienced in the day-to-day business within the region. The 2004 BCI covered 500 companies and 150 government executives. Broadly speaking, NTB’s are rooted in a variety of causes that can be labeled as “structural bottlenecks”.
The objective of the NTB monitoring mechanism is to facilitate the identification, reporting, monitoring and elimination/reduction of current and future NTBs within the EAC partner states. This is part of efforts to consolidate the EAC economic integration process under the EAC Customs Union.
The design of the monitoring mechanism was based on specific approaches identified through consultations4 with trade stakeholders. These approaches were regarded as the most feasible in facilitating the identification, reporting and elimination of current and future NTBs within EAC. The Monitoring Mechanism was that developed into two major parts, namely (1) Procedural Elements NTB monitoring mechanism, and (2) National NTB elimination and monitoring plans. Consultations leading to development of the Mechanism were carried out between August 2005 and March 2006. The NTBs inventory was thereafter updated in 2007 through an exercise commissioned by COMESA to harmonize the NTB Monitoring Mechanisms for COMESA, SADC and EAC regional integration blocs; and to design the national NTB elimination and monitoring plans.