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East Africa to Harmonise Laws On Export Processing Zones

Plans are underway to harmonise laws of export processing zones (EPZs) in East Africa.


The director-general of the Tanzania EPZ Authority, Dr Adelhelm Meru, hopes by so doing investments will be increased and the cooperation enhanced among EPZ bodies in the region.

He was briefing top officials of the Kenya EPZ authority in Dar es Salaam on Monday.

According to the acting chief executive officer of EPZA Kenya, Mr Joseph Kosure, current laws which oblige EPZs to sell only 20 per cent of their products in the East African markets are outdated.

He said it was important to amend such laws to allow EPZs to sell at least 70 per cent of their products in the region.

He also observed that East Africa's EPZs faced challenges, which should be addressed.
"Foremost,our people don't know the concept of EPZs. This hinders them from fully participating and benefiting from the investments in terms of employment, for example," he said.

Trust between the customs bodies in the region and the EPZs investors is also lacking because customs departments impose export taxes on EPZ products.

Dr Meru told the Kenyans that Tanzania's EPZs exported goods worth over $250 million (Sh339 billion) in 2008.

"Thirty-three companies have been registered so far in the EPZs and the future is bright," he said.

Mr Kosure, who was leading a three-member team, commended the Tanzania EPZA for its achievement.
"This is the reason why we have come here to learn from you," he said.

"In 1994, we recorded exports worth less than a billion Kenyan shillings but the figure has gone up considerably but we think we can do better than this," he said.

The number of companies operating as EPZs in Kenya increased from four in 1994 to 99 in 2008.

EPZ investments started in Kenya in 1994.

The Citizen  (Dar es Salaam)

3 March 2010