NAIROBI – East African presidents are expected to meet Friday in Arusha for the 20th Summit of the EAC Heads of States, an event they cancelled twice last year.

Ministers from the region on Wednesday held a meeting in preparation for the event just a day after principal secretaries concluded theirs on Tuesday at the same venue.

The heads of states will be looking into reports on how previous decisions by the councils have been implemented with trade and regional politics expected to be heavy on the agenda.

“Among the items on the agenda of the 38th council are reports on the: Implementation of previous decisions of the council; Office of the Secretary-General; report on planning and infrastructure; productive and social sectors; political matters; customs and trade; finance and administration matters; other EAC organs,” reads a statement from the EAC secretariat.

The region has been recording a decline in intra-regional trade due to the existence of various non-tariff barriers (NTBs) created by member states to discourage imports from neighbours.

The scenario has allowed for the influx of cheap Chinese imports into the region in what the East African Business Council decried in the last Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment meeting in November 2018.

Total trade in the EAC registered a decline of 19.5 per cent to $44.6 billion in 2016 from $55.4 billion in 2015, according to the EAC Trade and Investment Report 2016 partly due to persistent NTBs in the region.

Kenyan traders have been complaining bitterly over such barriers placed on goods entering the Tanzanian market, a subject that is likely to come up in the EAC meeting this week – The Nation