Secretary General commends Burundi for making drastic efforts in improving the cost of doing business
East African Community Secretariat, Arusha, Tanzania, 23 October 2012: The inaugural EAC Secretary General’s Private Sector Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) Forum for Burundi was held 22 October 2012 at the Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The overall objective of the SG’s CEO Forum is to provide a platform for the EAC Secretary General and CEOs of businesses in the region for continuous dialogue to ensure the integration process works for business and trade, EAC competitiveness, and ultimately economic growth.
Addressing the CEOs, the Secretary General Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera disclosed that in 2011, EAC Partner States sustained an average of 5% GDP growth against the global average of 3%. All performance indicators depicted significant growth trends, including Foreign Direct Investment inflows, which increased from USD 683 million in 2005 to USD 1.7 billion in 2011.
Amb.Sezibera informed the CEOs that the State of East Africa Report 2012 shows the value of EAC’s total trade with the world doubled from $17.5 billion in 2005 to $37 billion in 2010.
“I launched the Doing Business 2012 Report here in Bujumbura, Burundi in mid-April this year, and the Report features Burundi among the top 10 economies that improved the most on the ease of doing business, moving up 8 places in the global ranking (from 177 to 169),” said Amb. Sezibera.
He noted that according to the 2011 Doing Business indicators, it still takes an average of 47 days for people in Burundi to export a product; as a compared to the Dominican Republic, which takes 8 days for a person to export a product.
The EAC official reiterated that the problem can’t be accredited to Burundi being a landlocked country. He said an exporter in Vienna, a landlocked city in Europe for example, takes 2 days to arrange for and complete the transportation of cargo to the port of Hamburg some 900 kilometers away.
“This is almost the same distance from Burundi to the port in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania but that that trip here in East Africa can take one week or longer mainly due to inadequate infrastructure, as well as additional controls and waiting time at our border posts,” said Amb. Sezibera.
The Secretary General stated that EAC Secretariat is working fulltime to implement policies which have the potential to increase investment and growth, and which also address directly issues of poverty and inequality.
“I would like to mention one special set of policies which has the potential to increase investment and growth, and which also address directly issues of poverty and inequality. By promoting free trade and movement of labor, the EAC as a region can deploy to the maximum extent possible the law of comparative advantage, leading to higher incomes for their citizens. By lowering barriers to entry into business and improving regulatory frameworks, we would both promote investment and stimulate growth,” he added.
At the same occasion, Amb Laurent Kavakure, the Minister of External Relations and International Cooperation of the Republic of Burundi said much effort had been done by the government to make sure that the private sector become stronger. He noted that the progressive liberalization of trade and banking reforms that are underway will primarily benefit the private sector.
Amb. Kavakure informed the CEO’s that progressive elimination of non-tariff barriers; the ongoing construction of one-stop order posts and the creation of the Single Customs Territory will facilitate trade and improve the living standards of the people.
The Secretary General CEOs Forum in Burundi is the fifth edition of CEOs breakfast meetings at the national level. The other four CEO’s breakfast meetings have been held in each of the Partner States’ capitals. A regional forum is expected to take place on 15 November 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The SG’s CEO Forum is hosted by the East African Community Secretariat in partnership with East African Business Council (EABC) and Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), based on the three organizations’ shared objectives of fostering the interests of the business community in the integration process.
The Forum was attended by among others the Vice Chairperson of Burundi Private Sector Mr. Antoine Ntisigana; the EABC Executive Director Mr. Andrew Luzze; Country Director, TMEA, Burundi, Anthe Vrijlandt and over 60 CEOs.