The agreement will advance common goals of increasing trade within East Africa by reducing the time and cost of transiting and transporting goods. The partnership will also support East African Community (EAC) regional integration. Through Trade Africa, TMEA will broaden its regional integration program at the Ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam and key border posts along the Northern and Central Corridors, and will work with EAC Member States to remove barriers to trade.
The agreement was signed by USAID’s Associate Administrator, Mark Feierstein and Frank Matsaert, CEO of TMEA, and witnessed by the Kenya Ports Authority General Manager Engineering Services, Eng. Joseph Atonga on behalf of the Managing Director, Mr. Gichiri Ndua, Earl Gast, USAID Assistant Administrator for Africa, Andrew Herscowitz, Coordinator of the Power Africa and Trade Africa Initiatives, and the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, Florizelle Liser.
TradeMark East Africa is a company limited by guarantee (with offices in all East African countries, as well as Juba, South Sudan) that provides technical and monetary support to the EAC Secretariat, national governments, private sector and civil society to improve the ease of trading in East Africa through an emphasis on streamlining port, transit, customs and border operations in order to enhance trade. It has been supported largely by European bilateral donors and works to promote rapid advances in East Africa’s economic integration, trade and global competitiveness for all East Africans.
“In July, 2013, President Obama announced the United States Trade Africa Initiative, a new partnership between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa that seeks to increase internal and regional trade within the East African Community, and expand trade and economic ties between Africa, the United States, and other global markets. The agreement signed today will unite donor efforts across the region to support the East African Community and its Member States to implement the shared vision of a prosperous, growing East Africa,” said Feierstein.
TradeMark CEO Frank Matsaert noted that trade infrastructure is critical to East Africa’s prosperity, and in creating much needed employment in the region. Currently East Africa’s trade corridors are characterized by long transit times and high costs. Freight costs per kilometer are more than 50% higher than costs in the United States and Europe, and for the landlocked countries, transport costs can be as high as 45% of the value of exports.
“The U.S. Government is an important partner in promoting regional and economic integration in East Africa. TradeMark East Africa will continue to focus its efforts on increasing trade and prosperity in East Africa, primarily through investments that have the biggest benefit for East Africa’s people and the private sector. Facilitating regional trade is an effective means to alleviate poverty. This investment supports those projects that provide the catalyst needed to bring prosperity to the region,” said Matsaert.
Trade Africa will assist TMEA to address economic growth constraints by promoting intra-regional exports, as well as enabling exports to new markets including the U.S. Reducing the barriers to cross-border trade can result in:
• a 15 percent reduction in average time to import or export a container from Mombasa or Dar es Salaam to Burundi and Rwanda; and,
• a 30 percent decrease in the average time a truck takes to cross selected borders.
“By reducing the time and costs of moving goods and services across borders, Trade Africa will both support greater intra-regional trade within the East African Community and support greater U.S.-EAC trade and investment, including under the African Growth and Opportunity Act,” said Liser.
Feierstein and Gast are in Kenya this week to evaluate the progress of President Obama’s initiatives toward fostering public-private partnerships to address U.S. and Kenya’s shared development objectives.