By VICTOR AMADALA
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is losing at least Sh3.2 trillion annually in trade due to trade barriers arising from protectionism policy.
Road blocks, lengthy customs procedures and administrative requirements are some of barriers hindering free flow of trade in the region that has the potential to make at least Sh4.2 trillion per year.
Last year, intra- Comesa trade dropped by 1.76 per cent to Sh2.1 trillion compared to the previous year. This was revealed yesterday at the start of the Fifth Comesa Annual Research Forum in Nairobi that is bringing together the academia, government officers, private sector, policy think tanks and development partners.
’There is need for country member states to look into these issues, because sometimes we deal with one, then there arises other three non-tariff barriers,” Comesa Competition Commission chief executive Goerge Lipimile said.
He termed protectionism policy by member states where they are imposing bureaucratic measures to block free trade movement as the biggest hindrance to intra-Africa trade.
It is for this reason that commodity prices in the region are up, giving due advantage to foreign traders that have flooded the market. Non-tariff barriers include quotas, levies, embargoes, sanctions and other restrictions, and are frequently used by large and developed economies.