KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Speaker of Parliament Anita Among has raised concern over some East African Community-EAC countries breaching trade agreements by limiting the entry of goods from partner states into their markets.
Among made the statement on Monday while meeting judges from the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) at Parliament. The EACJ is the judicial arm of the East African Community and a regional court. It interprets, applies and ensures compliance with the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC.
The judges included Justice Nestor Kayobera, the President of the East African Court of Justice, Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire, the Vice President of the Appellate Division of the EACJ and Justice Richard Wabwire Wejuli, the First Instance Division Judge.
Among welcomed the planned session of the court in Uganda scheduled for November but appealed to the judges to look at the issue of the continued breach of Non-Tarriff Barriers by some partner states in the Community.
“I call upon the East African Community to trouble-shoot the Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) that continue to breach the EAC Common Market Protocol and inhibit the integration process. These NTBs manifest through tax measures, quality and safety standards, import bans and customs and trade facilitation measures,” she said.
The Speaker noted that Uganda’s sugarcane, dairy and poultry exporters have been victims of such Non-Tariff Barriers in the recent past.
Among added that when the EAC Customs Union came into force in 2015, it was envisaged that it would facilitate the establishment of a common external tariff and pave way for the removal of all intra-regional tariffs by 2010.
“The EAC Common market protocol, which came into force in 2010, sought to integrate member states markets into a single market where there is free movement of labour, capital, goods and services pursuant to Article 76 of the Treaty. However, this is yet to be realized,” she told the judges.
The Speaker said that even the enactment of the EAC Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers Act, 2017, administrative and bureaucratic bottlenecks continue to impede the free movement of goods, services and labour within the Community.
She asked the East African Court of Justice to amplify the quest for the realization of the EAC Common Market as one of the milestones towards integration.
In his statement, Justice Nestor Kayobera commended Uganda’s commitment to regional integration. He applauded Uganda’s ratification of the protocol on trade and investment and that it helps the Court process in regard to investment and trade.
Kayobera also noted that they were in the country to interact with the Speaker, the Chief Justice, Minister of East African Community Affairs and the Attorney General in the area of judicial diplomacy which is a principal of the EACJ.
The visit by the judges is ahead of the 2nd Annual Judicial Conference that will be held between 26th and 28th October in Kampala.
Kayobera said that the conference offers the EACJ to interact with jurists from the partner States, youth, academia, media and others on the role of the Community Court. He added that after the October Conference, the EACJ will sit in Uganda in November and dispense several judgments that involve Uganda.
The East African Court of Justice will be 20 years old in November.
Among appealed to the Court to safeguard rule of law and stimulate awareness so that ordinary people in the EAC partner states who are dissatisfied can seek redress in the regional court.