Kenyans see more benefits from the expanded regional market

17:22, July 01, 2010      

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As the East African Community Common Market Protocol enters into force on Thursday, Kenya is expressing optimism that it will reap maximum benefits from the expanded regional market.

Kenyan investors have been eagerly waiting for the signing of the protocol as they hope to take up the business opportunities offered by the integration.

The East African Community (EAC) Common Market Protocol has already been ratified by member states namely Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.

It opens door for free movement of goods and persons as well as provides for the rights of establishment, rights of residence and free movement of services and capital as agreed by member states, removing all restrictions to these rights.

Speaking during the official launch of the Protocol in Nairobi on Wednesday, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said the levels of investments in the region are set to increase thus resulting in free movement of labour, capital, goods and services within the region.

"It will open up employment opportunities for our citizens. The common market will avail greater opportunities for trade in goods and services. The common market will also provide opportunities for greater capital mobilization to boost investment in the region," Kibaki told the forum.

The regional economic bloc will create a market of close to 126 million people and a combined GDP of 75 billion U.S. dollars, making it one of the largest trading blocs in Africa.

Analysts say although the commencement of the common market is being hailed as a springboard of transforming the economies of EAC member states with an expanded market, misconception amongst most business people and ordinary citizens in the region is that trade changes immediately.

Kenya's Minister for East Africa Community Amason Kingi said there has been a misconception that once the common market protocol takes effect, member countries will feel the benefits immediately. "Some people think that on July 1 all borders will collapse to allow them to move their goods freely, yet there is a lot that needs to be done," Kingi said.

The minister said there are many amendments to individual countries' laws and setting up of new ones, which cannot be done in a day or even a year. "This week will be a show of each member states' commitment whose full implementation and complete removal of barriers may be realized around 2015," the minister said.

It is envisaged that the common market shall accelerate economic growth and development of the partner states through the attainment of free movement of goods, persons, labor, services and capital.

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