EAC states should exploit the huge potential for export of raw cotton to the world market, Kenya’s EAC Principal Secretary Dr. Kevit Desai has said said.
Dr Desai said the region produces 100,000 metric tonnes of cotton compared to an existing export potential of 400,000 metric tonnes.
spoke to journalists at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha where he is attending the 31st Meeting of the Sectoral Council of Ministers of EAC Affairs and Planning. He is the chairperson of the Coordination Committee that brings together Permanent/Principal/Under Secretaries for EAC Affairs in the Partner States,
EAC exports to the world market currently stand at only eight per cent.
To increase the volume of exports, Desai said the value chains such as textiles need to be promoted.
“We need to harness science, technology and innovation to boost exports by investing in greater capacity to produce leather and textiles, and turn a crop like pyrethrum into aerosols,” Desai said, noting that increased investment in the leather and textile sectors would cater for the growing demand in the region for locally manufactured high-quality clothes and leather products.
The PS said the intra-EAC trade stands at 15 per cent, which he described as very low compared to other regional economic communities such as the EU and SADC.
“It is encouraging that a confederation for the agricultural sector has already been established. We need to broaden the horizon in as far as trade is concerned and increase exports,” he said.
“There is a need for greater aggregation and consolidation to increase the region’s exports to external markets. EAC Partner States should also create the necessary networks to promote collaboration,” he added.
Asked about the high prevalence of Non-tariff Barriers in the region and their impact on intra-regional trade, the PS said protectionism of national economies was natural but noted that greater potential among member states would open up markets and boost intra-EAC trade.