The review of the Common External Tariff of the East African Community: Options for strengthening Uganda’s negotiating position

  • The East African Community is a customs union governed by a Common External Tariff (CET). The CET is currently under review, with members considering higher rates of external protection and an increase in the number of tariff bands.
  • Uganda proposes to expand the current three-band structure of the CET (0, 10 and 25 %) by an additional 5 % rate and a new peak rate of 35%. For the latter, Uganda identified 227 individual products.
  • Assessing Uganda’s proposal for the review, the researchers conclude that the government should revisit its suggestion to introduce a 35%-band as well as an increase in the number of bands in the CET more generally. Negotiation outcomes may well put Uganda producers, especially its exporters, at serious disadvantage: Other EAC members are likely to employ a new peak rate for protecting products which Uganda needs to import at competitive prices.
  • Uganda should also advocate for phasing out of the List of Sensitive Items, with eventual reclassification at the maximum rate. As for forms of unilateral deviation, countrywide Stays of Application should be permitted, but firm-specific Duty Remission Schemes should be re-evaluated in light of likely discriminatory access.