Launch of MARKUP Project to Boost Trade and Market Access
Agribusinesses in the East African Community (EAC) countries are to benefit from greater business opportunities in both East African and European markets thanks to a new initiative funded by the European Union. The project will be implemented by the EAC supported by GIZ and ITC. The Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP) will support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the region to improve their access to the EU market and increase interregional trade.
MARKUP supports East African SMEs specialised in a variety of sectors, such as avocado, cocoa, coffee, horticulture, spices and tea production. The project will identify and decrease barriers to trade and support their reduction or even removal; it will improve competitiveness; strengthen the processing of agricultural products in the selected sectors; ensure compliance with international standards and regulations; provide access to trade finance ventures; and support the identification of opportunities for trade and foreign direct investments. Selected Stakeholders in the priority sectors will be trained to adapt their agribusinesses to the opportunities and requirements in regional and global value chains, thus taking advantage of a growing global demand for their products.
‘The MARKUP project complements the longstanding support of the German Government to the East African integration process. In times where interregional free trade is questioned and voices of protectionism can be heard louder than before, we are especially proud that the European Union has entrusted us with this initiative. We will work closely with the EAC Secretariat and the EAC Partner States to support the implementation of the Customs Union and the Common Market Protocol in order to improve the preconditions for trade and value addition in the region,” said GIZ Country Director Ernst Hustaedt.
EAC Secretary General Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko stated that the main objective of MARKUP was to help the EAC in unlocking challenges in accessing the European Union markets in addition to enhancing intra-EAC trade. He noted that the major challenge of accessing the EU and other international markets was the failure of EAC products to meet the high product standards in these markets.
The successful inclusion of women and youth in trade will be crucial to the success of MARKUP, as they account for a large proportion of the labour force, but are often prevented from taking advantage of the economic opportunities provided by increased trade.
Improving the compliance of SMEs with international quality and standards requirements such as Sanitary- and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures will help participating SMEs to gain certification for their products so that they can be exported to enter foreign markets.
A regional Steering Committee including representation from relevant national ministries, and chaired by the EAC Secretariat, will provide overall direction for the programme. National agencies and trade and investment promotion organisations will support work-plan development and the implementation of MARKUP.