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EU Trade Gaps and their Implications for East Africa

Eight nations make up the East African Community (EAC)—Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. To the EU they mainly export coffee, cut flowers, tea, tobacco, fish, and vegetables. From the EU they import machinery and mechanical appliances, equipment and parts, vehicles, and pharmaceutical products. During a scoping report presented at a workshop held on May 25 in Kigali, Rwanda by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the East African Science and Technology Commission, the conclusion was that though the bloc is making progress, it’s struggling to create jobs, tame corruption, prepare for the effects of climate change, innovate, develop its infrastructure, attract foreign direct investment, and control currency volatility. If it doesn’t do better, local businesses might suffer from reduced trade with the EU. One major challenge, according to the report, will be preparing east Africa for the effects of climate change. This is in part because the effects on elements such as precipitation are expected to be dire, and significant investment is still needed to prepare. SEI Africa centre director Philip Osano urged east African governments to use digital tools such as Trase software, which is designed to help companies improve the sustainability of their supply chains.