Somalia joins east Africa trade bloc as it eyes new opportunities

An aerial view shows the downtown of Mogadishu, Somalia February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Feisal Omar/File Ph
Mogadishu, Somalia

Somalia joins east Africa trade bloc as it eyes new opportunities. Somali officials and business people believe that their country’s economy, severely damaged by conflict, would benefit from Somalia’s admission as the eighth member of the East African Community trading group on Friday.

The EAC common market, established in 2010 and already including about 300 million people, comprises Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

“Somalia has formally joined the East African Community, strengthening connections and creating new avenues for advancement and collaboration,” stated Daud Aweis, the minister of information, culture, and tourism in Somalia, in a post on X, which was previously Twitter.

Along with gaining a new member, the bloc has grown its market and acquired access to a coastline that stretches over 3,000 km (1,800 miles) and may contain offshore resources like gas and oil.

Somalia may now take advantage of the bloc’s substantial population, established customs union, and shared market, which attract investment.

Even though the EAC has made strides toward economic integration over the years, it has, like many other trade blocs, had difficulty overcoming obstacles to trade, including bureaucratic obstacles, unstable political environments, inadequate infrastructure, and trade disputes.

Somalia, a roughly 17-million-person country, has been vying for membership in the East African Community (EAC) for years. Still, analysts believe that because of its ongoing instability, several East African nations are hesitant to accept it.

Since 2006, the Mogadishu government has been subjected to a deadly insurgency by al Shabaab, an organization affiliated with al Qaeda. Some officials have expressed concerns about how EAC integration would facilitate the movement of militants and illegal goods throughout the region.

Following over ten years of isolation, Kenya had planned to restore its border with Somalia. Still, preparations were delayed earlier this year due to an increase in attacks in northern Kenya by rebels believed to be part of al-Shabaab.

Businesses in Somalia expressed optimism that the country’s thriving private sector, which has persevered in the face of adversity to remain alive, will introduce new, risk-taking businesspeople into the trade bloc and foster interactions throughout the sizable Somali Diaspora.

“Accessing financial services and products will be easier for the large Somali Diaspora residing throughout East Africa,” stated Salaam Somali Bank’s managing director, Shuayb Haji Nur Mohamed, who leads one of Somalia’s largest banks.

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