Kenya and other East African partner states have been urged to fast-track admission of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into the regional block to allow small traders tap into huge business opportunities in the Central African nation.
East African Business Council says EAC partner states stands to benefit from DRC’s vast trade market driven by its huge population of 81 million people.
DRC will benefit from the larger EAC Common Market and Common External Tariff framework. It will also have access to sea ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam at competitive rates. Their huge population of 81 million people also provides a vast opportunity for SMEs from the EAC region,” said EABC Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Peter Mathuki.
DR. Mathuki Spoke today during the launch of a study titled; “The opportunities for trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo”, by the East African Business Council in collaboration with GIZ Creating Perspectives Project.
The report finds that the value of goods imported in the DRC in 2019, stood at USD 6.6 billion.
However, EAC exports to the DRC in 2018, stood at USD 855.4 million, representing 11.5 per cent of total DRC imports.
The value of EAC partner states exports to the DRC in 2018 were as follows; Rwanda – USD 337.4 million, Uganda – USD 204.3 million, Kenya- USD 149.8 million, TanzaniaUSD-144.9 million and Burundi at USD- 18.9 million.
The study reveals China is the top exporter to the country commanding a share of 31.2 per cent,followed by South Africa at 15.8 per cent and Zambia 13 per cent.
It reveals that there is a large market for SMEs in EAC partner states in the textile clusters particularly those handling clothes made from cotton.
SMEs handling processed foodstuffs such as raw cane sugar and sugar confectionery; food preparations, such as tomato sauce, vinegar and baking soda; plastic and rubber also stands to benefit.
The study finds that non-tariff barriers in DRC have hampered business translating to high cost
of doing business in the country.
“EABC being the apex body for the private sector in the region will play a critical role in advocating for ease of doing business in DRC which will in turn lower cost of doing business, making DRC competitive, as we prepare to join the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” Dr Mathuki said.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) applied for admission to join the East African Community (EAC) in June 2019.
Despite the country sharing its borders with five of EAC partner states; South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, EAC’s trade with the DRC is significantly low.