EU supports TradeMark East Africa with €5 million to guarantee safe trade in Kenya
TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) and the European Union signed a €5 million agreement to support the Safe Trade Emergency Facility being implemented by TMEA in the region. The funds from the European Union will fund the Kenyan component of the programme making the EU the largest donor to the programme.
The Safe Trade Facility is an emergency programme being rolled out by TMEA in the wake of COVID- 19 to complement East African Governments’ efforts to keep safe trade flowing even as the fight against the virus continues. Specifically, in Kenya, the Safe Trade Emergency Facility will fund a range of short to medium term measures to protect critical supply chains and keep borders open thus preventing job losses and protecting livelihoods.
The EU Ambassador to Kenya, Simon Mordue, commented: ''The European Union is the largest common market in the world. I am therefore happy to support this Safe Trade Emergency Facility in Kenya not only as a donor but also by drawing on the EU’s knowledge and experience. This action will support Kenya as the gateway to the EAC by making certain that all supply chains stay open and that food and all other critical supplies can reach their destinations. At the same time, we will support the Government in preventing COVID-19 spreading further because of cross border traffic. We are doing everything possible to support the economy. Saving jobs and businesses is saving lives.''
Through public-private partnerships the programme will provide mobile testing labs at Mombasa port and key border crossings, including Busia and Malaba, and personal protective equipment for the staff working there, which will complement existing government facilities to prevent the virus from spreading at these important trade hubs. The programme will also provide information at major border crossings.
TMEA will introduce a tracking application linked to the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS) platform to monitor both trucks and their drivers, in line with health and sanitation protocols. The programme will also provide information at major border crossings.
TMEA CEO Frank Matsaert underlined: “The situation we are facing now could be with us for a while, it’s hence imperative we quickly come up with ways to keep trade flowing while curbing the virus. A good starting point is equipping key border agencies with a broad range of equipment and technologies both for trade and related health aspects and we are pleased with the European Union’s support.”
The necessary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region have unfortunately dealt regional trade a huge blow with a particularly strong adverse impact on the informal sector. Trade volumes at the Port of Mombasa have sharply declined in Kenya, with dry, liquid, and containerized cargo declining at 16%, 19% and 23% respectively. Fresh produce exports out of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) have dropped from a weekly 5,000 tonnes to only 1300 tonnes, a 75% decline. With Kenya serving as an important regional gateway to the region, the effects of interruption in her trade flows are reverberating across the entire region.
Cabinet Secretary for EAC Affairs & Regional Development Adan Mohammed emphasized the need for the region to work together to keep trade flowing in these unprecedented times. ''We note with appreciation that the support by the European Union through TradeMark East Africa will support consistent COVID-19 prevention protocols at the boarders, supply critical PPE to our staff, increase the number of tests administered, expand health offices at the borders, and support facts-based communication to all the actors,'' he said.
Betty Maina, Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Trade and Co-operatives said: ''This grant is very important and will complement the government’s efforts that ultimately cushion not only large enterprises but especially also the MSME who rely greatly on the flow of supply chains as most cannot maintain large inventories.''
The other donors supporting TMEA are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom and United States of America.
The EU itself is contributing Ksh 35 billion to Kenya’s response to COVID-19 whilst EU Member States have already provided more than Ksh 3.3 billion (EUR 30 million) - that figure continues to increase. This collective support by Team Europe is a statement of Europe’s friendship and partnership with Kenya in these difficult global times.