By Abdul Rahman Suagibu –
NEW AFRICA DAILY NEWS, Freetown, Sierra Leone- East African bloc has made it official that every Fridays, East Africans must wear attires manufactured in the region, since it has been announced that ‘Mashariki Fashion Day’ has been declared. The 36th Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) by extension, promulgated that the 1st Week of September an ‘Afrika Mashariki Fashion Week’ to be held annually as a Trade Fair and Exhibition of EAC designed textiles and garments. The SCTIFI encouraged EAC partner states that produce cotton to set up national cotton lint buffer stock mechanisms to ensure all year round availability of locally produced cotton plant to spinning mills. The Ministerial session of the 36th SCTIFI which was charged by Rwanda’s Minister for Trade and Industry – Ms. Soraya M. Hakuziyaremye approved the final Draft Cotton, Textile and Apparels (CTA)
Strategy and the implementation Roadmap. In her opening statements, Ms. Hakuziyaremye said that, for the EAC region to gather largest values from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfcFTA), it was essential to improve the region’s productive capacity. Ms Hakuziyaremye called for urgent implementation of a number of outstanding EAC Summit decisions and directives especially in the textile, leather and automotive industries in addition to resolving Non – Tariff Barriers. She reminded the Ministers that, AfCFTA Summit had directed that; the implementation of the agreement should commence by 1st July 2020 necessitating EAC partner States to conclude their Tariff Offers by the agreed states.
The Minister nod to partner states to give premium to the implementation of the Cotton, Textiles and Apparels (CTA) strategy by providing budgets for the activities, as relevant to specific countries, in the 2020/2021 Final Year.
The SCTIF directed the Standards committee to assess and advice on possibility of the Pre-Shipment verification of conformity (PVoC) of all imports of textiles and readymade garments (RMGs) into the region, as measure to control illegal imports of worm out textiles and garments.
On Non – Tariff barriers (NTBs), the SCTIFI directed partner states to negate all the outstanding NTBs from the EAC Time Bound Program. The Ministers further directed the Secretariat to always plan a one – day session of Ministers with the East African Business Council and Other Private Sector custodians before every SCTIFI to deliberate on issues of concern to the private sector including NTBs.
The recommendations of these engagements would then be escalated to the Council of Ministers and eventually the Summit. It was noted that among the causes of NTBs include: Non- harmonization of excise duty amongst partner States; lack of a common framework for harmonization of local content; multiple trade facilitation agencies; persistent stays of studies and verification missions and non – recognition of standards quality marks.
For New Africa Daily News Abdul Rahman Suagibu Reports, Africa Correspondent