This report has two chief aims: to summarize recent developments in trade facilitation (defined below) in the East African Community (EAC) and to identify the potential benefits of trade facilitation to the EAC countries (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda), based on empirical studies and the experiences of other developing countries. The report was requested by the United States Trade Representative (USTR), who asked that it do the following:
Describe present conditions and recent developments related to the movement of goods to and from the EAC countries.
* This description should cover the policies enforced at the borders and the procedures for enforcing them, along with transport infrastructure.
* As far as possible, it should note elements mentioned in U.S. trade facilitation agreements, as well as in the chapters on trade facilitation in U.S. free trade agreements.
* The description should focus on conditions in individual EAC countries as well as in the EAC region as a whole.
Summarize findings from the empirical literature on the benefits of overall improvements in trade facilitation.
For example, benefits might involve expanding import and export volumes, diversifying exports, and encouraging economic development. This summary should include highlights of any notable findings specific to the EAC countries.
Discuss relevant sector-specific case studies that illustrate the benefits of trade facilitation.
The case studies should focus on developing countries within and outside sub-Saharan Africa, and should particularly target industries where EAC countries have significant African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) exports.
How This Report Defines “Trade Facilitation”
For this report, the USTR defined trade facilitation to mean: The simplification of customs procedures affecting the movement of goods across borders, as well as improvements to transport infrastructure. Particular customs procedures include trade documentation and inspection requirements, electronic customs data interchange systems, and border post operations.
The Approach Used in This Report
The report relies mainly on a review of existing literature to achieve its aims. It uses studies based on recent data and with findings specific to the EAC, where possible. In some cases, however, only studies that use somewhat older data or present findings on other country groups were available.
Interested parties were also invited to submit written statements concerning this investigation, as the short timeframe of the study precluded holding a public hearing. More information was gathered through interviews with U.S. government sources and with industry and academic experts.
How This Report Is Organized
Chapter 2 describes the present conditions and recent developments in the movement of goods to and from the countries of the EAC, including policies enforced at the border, the procedures for enforcing them, and transport infrastructure. The information in this chapter reflects conditions in individual EAC countries, including individual country profiles, as well as the EAC region as a whole.
Chapter 3 summarizes the findings from the empirical literature on the benefits of broad improvements in trade facilitation, including findings specific to the EAC countries. To illustrate the benefits of trade facilitation, short case studies from developing countries within and outside sub-Saharan Africa appear in both chapters.
- The report, 103 pages and dated July 2012, can be accessed here.