The East African Community








Contacts Website
Members Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania
Main transport corridors Northern Corridor (website), Central Corridor
Key private sector organisations East Africa Business Council
Federation of Eastern Africa Freight Forwarders Associations
East Africa Shippers Council
East Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Kenya Association of Manufacturers
Confederation of Tanzania Industries
Uganda Manufacturers Association

The Community

EAC was originally established in 1967 but the organisation collapsed ten years later. The revived organisation of the East African Community entered in to force in 2000.

It has a common market for goods, labour and capital within the area. It aims to establish the EAC monetary union, with a protocol for this signed in 2013. The most important aspects of the customs market include a common external tariff on imports from third countries, duty-free trade between the member states and common customs procedures.

The EAC is part of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement with SADC and COMESA which was established in 2005 with the aim to harmonise REC programmes in the areas of trade and infrastructure development, In order to accelerate economic integration and achieve sustainable economic development.

Trade-related items

The East African region has much potential in agriculture, minerals, tourism, energy and other investment opportunities. The EAC countries have undertaken comprehensive economic reforms to reduce government intervention in the economy and stimulate growth of the private sector.

All EAC countries except for Kenya are part of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative, offering all products except for arms and ammunitions preferential access to the EU market. EAC countries together with other sub-Saharan African states also have duty free access to the US market through the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

EAC will establish a Trade facilitation Unit under the Directorate of Customs & Trade and a Sub-Committee on Trade Facilitation, which will ultimately report to the Council through the Sectorial Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) was recently formed. The Terms of Reference are currently being developed. The main measures in EAC to enhance trade are:

  • The customs union protocol: further liberalising intra-regional trade in goods, promoting production efficiency, enhancing domestic, cross-border and foreign investment along with promoting economic development and industrial diversification
  • Trade facilitation: cooperation in simplifying, standardising and harmonising trade information and documentations
    Anti-dumping measures: regulations have been developed as highlighted in the EAC Customs Union Protocol
  • Competition policy and law: being implemented by member states to avoid practices leading to adverse effects of free trade
  • Re-export of goods: exempted from payment of import- and export duties
    Removal of non-tariff barriers to trade: all existing NTBs are to removed and no new NTBs are to be imposed
  • Standards and measures: standardisation, quality assurance, metrology, testing for the promotion of trade and investment and consumer protection have been deemed particularly important.

Three administrative structures are established in the EAC under the Standardisation, quality assurance, metrology and Testing (SQMT) Act (link):

  • East African Standards Committee (EASC): coordinates activities on standardisation, metrology and conformity assessment. It further monitors the implementation of activities on both community and national levels. It further submits standards, reports and recommendations to the Council of Ministers concerning the implementation of the Treaty affecting the three assessments.
  • Liaison Office: Provides administrative and logistical support to the EASC and arranges public review of draft East African standards.
  • East African Accreditation Board (EAAB): The board comprises of chief executives of the national accreditation bodies and national focal points. It facilitates cooperation and coordinates accreditation activities in order to avoid duplication of functions of the national accreditation bodies and focal points.

The EAC Customs Management Act of 2004 relates to the Management and Administration of customs, transfer tax and other matters relating to and are connected with these (link).

Rules of Origin are laws, regulations and administrative procedures that determine a product’s country of origin. The EAC Customs Union Protocol states that intra-community trade will be conducted the agreed East African Rules of Origin. The EAC Rules of Origin were initiated in 2007 and aimed at facilitate cross border trade. To reach this objective, a simplified EAC Certificate of origin was developed for usage by small cross border traders (link).

Trade Facilitation Initiatives

  • EAC Trade HelpDesk (website)
  • Regional AEOs Framework (website)
  • Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking Framework
  • NTB Act and Online Reporting mechanism as part of Tripartite (pdf)

Main Technical Assistance Partners

  • AfDB
  • EU
  • ITC
  • JICA
  • TMEA
  • WB
  • ACBF
  • ComSec
  • NECA
  • GIZ
  • EADB
  • Commonwealth Secretariat
  • WMA
  • EAC Partnership Fund (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, EC and WB)