The European Union (EU), with a market value of €4300 billion, has opened its doors to over 500 agribusinesses in East Africa, benefiting countries such as Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania. This development comes under the EU-EAC Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP), established five years ago in 2018, which allows these East African countries to engage in agricultural trade with the EU.
Speaking at the virtual launch of MARKUP, Jose-Luiz Gonzalez, the programme officer of the EU delegation in Tanzania and EAC, expressed the EU’s enthusiasm for strengthening economic ties with the East African states through this initiative. He emphasized the eventful and mutually beneficial relationship between the EU and EAC, highlighting the importance of continuous adaptation to meet the requirements of today’s trading ecosystem.
Reflecting on lessons learned from decades of trade and development cooperation, Jose-Luiz explained that increased exports and development are not automatically linked. To streamline export procedures and reduce related costs, the EU supported the development and utilization of trade information portals. Training was provided to associations in the coffee and horticulture sectors on using these portals to assess the value of each step required for exporting their products.
The delegation officer emphasized that the EU market offers significant opportunities for EAC’s agribusinesses, as there is a growing demand for their products, including tea, coffee, spices, and avocado. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of considering significant developments such as the potential of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area to boost EAC exports. Environmental sustainability, climate-smart agriculture, value addition, and access to appropriate technology were highlighted as key factors in expanding agri-exports.
With the EU’s willingness to engage in trade and foster economic relationships, East African agribusinesses have the chance to tap into a vast market and enhance their export potential. By seizing these opportunities, the region can strengthen its agricultural sector, promote sustainable practices, and drive economic growth.