Non-tariff barriers and regional integration in the East African Community

Policy brief Firms, Trade and Firm capabilities

  • We conducted surveys with a representative sample of over 1,500 traders in markets near the Kenya-Uganda border, as well as a census of border clearing agents, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Larger traders are more likely to engage in cross-border trade, likely because the fixed costs of trade barriers mean that per-unit costs fall heaviest on smaller traders.
  • Fees and non-tariff barriers at the official border encourage substantial informal border crossing.
  • Reforms to reduce non-tariff barriers, especially the fixed costs that fall heavily on small traders, may encourage more formal cross-border trade, increasing competition and raising government revenues.