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EAC Trade Guide

Regional trade integration is a cornerstone of EAC Partner States’ trade policies. This involves, among other initiatives, strengthening of public institutions and private sector organisations involved in export promotion.

Market size and access

  • The internal EAC market has about 125 million consumers.

  • The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) comprises 20 member states with a population of over 400 million. Rwanda, Kenya Uganda and Burundi are all members;

  •  The Southern African Development Community (SADC), established in 1992, and is now composed of 13 member states among which is Tanzania- the only EAC state that also belongs to the southern African bloc;

  • Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are covered by the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative, under which all products from LDCs except arms and ammunitions have preferential access to the EU market;

  • Together with other sub-Saharan African countries, the EAC Partner States also qualify for duty-free access to the US market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA);

  • Products from EAC countries can access various markets in the developed world through the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which offers preferential treatment to a wide range of products originating in developing countries;

  • Membership in the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) enables products from Partner States to qualify for preferential tariffs on exports to member countries;

  • Burundi is a member of the Economic Community of Central African States which aims at establishing a Central African Common Market;


A number of measures have been taken at the Community level to enhance trade, and these include the following:

  • The Customs Union Protocol - signed in March 2004 came into force upon ratification by the then three member countries and became effective on 1 January 2005. The objectives of the Customs Union include furthering the liberalization of intra-regional trade in goods; promoting production efficiency in the Community; enhancing domestic, cross-border and foreign investment; and promoting economic development and industrial diversification;
  • Trade Facilitation - The Partner States have agreed to cooperate in simplifying, standardizing and harmonizing trade information and documentation so as to facilitate trade in goods;
  • Anti-dumping measures - The Community has developed anti-dumping regulations, as elaborately highlighted in the EAC Customs Union Protocol;
  • Competition Policy and Law – EAC already has in place EAC Competition Policy and Law currently being implemented by the Partner States with an aim to deter any practice that adversely affects free trade within the Community;

  • Re-export of goods - Re-exports are to be exempted from the payment of import or export duties;
  • Non-tariff barriers to trade - Under Article 13 of the Customs Union Protocol, the EAC Partner States have agreed to remove all existing non-tariff barriers to trade and not to impose any new ones;
  • Standards and measures - Under Article 81 of the Treaty Establishing the Community, the EAC Partner States recognised the importance of standardisation, quality assurance, metrology and testing for the promotion of trade and investment and consumer protection, among other things.