The East African (EAC)  member states lost $3.36Bn worth of trade in the year when COVID-19 struck. Mitigation measures to curb the spread of the virus led to cutting off of major global trade links through lockdowns. This is according to the latest draft report on EAC Trade and Investment for 2020. Notably, Uganda was the only country with a record high trade increase of 4.6%.

The overall trade for the six member states dropped by 6.08% to $51.91 BN in the period from $55.27 in 2019 however the increase in the value of EAC exports to UAE and UK increased by 3.15% to 16.25BN from 15.76%.

Total investment of the region dropped by 46.29% in 2020 with only Burundi recording the highest percentage growth of $348.1 million. According to the report, Uganda attracted less foreign direct Investment inflows but created the most jobs compared to South Sudan and Rwanda which attracted the highest. This comes at a time when more than 153000 jobs on average were lost in a year, wiping out more than $5billion investment for the region.

“Unfortunately, the pandemic containment measures imposed by regional governments negatively impacted free movement of goods and persons. Unprecedented long queues of trucks were witnessed at border points due to long periods of waiting for COVID-19 test results by truck drivers” said Peter Mathuki, EAC Secretary General.

The report recommends that, to counter these long queues, member countries should implement the harmonized EAC administrative guidelines on COVID-19 to adopt the EAC Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan

The report shows that domestic investments have become the key development strategy for the EAC member states with the manufacturing sector attracting the greatest amount followed by finance, insurance, real estate and business services respectively. Partner states were encouraged to be more open and transparent in improving the ease of doing business between them by embracing industrialization and value addition to promote exports, job creation and reduce trade imbalance.

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