Transparency is the foundational principle for states’ compliance with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). To meet the requirements of the WTO TFA and the essential need of businesses to access guidance on export and import procedures, EAC countries have set up online trade facilitation portals. These portals are one-stop shops for all relevant information about trade, including laws, regulations and procedures in a specific country.
The regional EAC Regional Trade Information Portal was launched in 2018 as a result of the collaboration between the EAC Secretariat, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The portal gives access to step-by-step guides on licenses, pre-clearance permits and clearance formalities for the goods traded within, to and from the EAC.
It links to national trade facilitation portals in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, co-implemented by ITC and UNCTAD that present step-by-step guidance on import and export procedures. For each step, the trade portal tells the user ‘where to go, who to see, what documents to bring, what forms to fill, what costs to pay, what law justifies the step and where to complain to in case of a problem’. Under the EAC MARKUP, Burundi will soon launch its own national portal, also linked to the EAC portal.
Beyond easing business compliance with trade formalities, Portals also help EAC drive regional integration. Through the platform, EAC Partner States can exchange good practices and track their progress towards facilitation goals set at the regional and national levels. Enhancing and promoting the Trade Portals in support of EAC business and regional integration are some of the core objectives of MARKUP.