A new regulator or ombudsman for regional trade disputes is now likely to be in place by April after missing an earlier December target, a regional bloc official has said.
East Africa Community (EAC) Secretary-General Peter Mathuki told the Business Daily the Trade Remedies Committee (TRC) could be in place by end of the first quarter or beginning of the second quarter.
The body will assist businesses in the bloc’s five-member States when they have concerns over unfair trade deals from foreign rivals.
It will have powers to investigate and address unfair trade practices and subsidies.
TRC will investigate any complaints and make recommendations to government ministers for corrective anti-subsidy or anti-dumping measures that could be imposed to address any injury caused to the domestic industry in question.
The committee will investigate for example any unexpected surge in imports of a particular product and take steps to prevent harm to domestic industry by imposing temporary safeguard measures.
Mr Mathuki had earlier said the body would be in place by December last year.
“It remains a priority item in our to-do list, there is some progress because the matter is now at the coordination committee (Permanent Secretaries) together with the CET (EAC Common External Tariff), issue, we hope to have the matter finalised,” said Mr Mathuki in an interview.
Experts have often warned the delay by the bloc to operationalise the TRC is negatively affecting the business community, prolonging resolution of trade disputes and impacting trade within the region.
Spats among member States have in recent times almost paralysed trade and led to huge losses incurred by traders.
In one of the recent flare-ups of a trade spat involving EAC member states, Uganda recently protested a 79 percent cut on its scheduled sugar exports to Kenya, reigniting trade disputes between the two neighboring countries.