US strengthens trade with East African Community
An agreement has been signed by delegates from the US and East African Community (EAC) that will harmonise market standards, remove red tape, and eliminate tariffs in an effort to stimulate trade between the two regions.
Delegates representing Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda met with US Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman to sign what will formally be known as The East African Community – US Cooperation Treaty. The deal builds on increasingly buoyant relations between the EAC and the US; over the past five years trade in goods has grown by over 100 percent.
In the run up to the agreement, the EAC has already made changes to their trade operations, reducing the number of checkpoints that will greatly reduce transit time between ports and the interior.
In 2014, trade between the five countries and the U.S. totalled $2.8 billion; exports to the U.S. are mainly in the form of clothing, while U.S. imports to the EAC countries mainly consist of heavy machinery. EAC exports to the US totalled $473 million whilst the US exported roughly $2 billion to the bloc.
The US will provide EAC countries with the training necessary for them to market their goods on a global scale; this will come in the form of specialist advice relating to regulations, animal and plant health standards, as well as general food safety guidelines.
This comes at a time when US senators are putting pressure on the South African government to remove protective tariffs in place on poultry import under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA); it will certainly be interesting to see if any similar disputes arise as a result of this deal.
It has been noted that the US could be trying to catch up with other trading blocs as they race for dominance in the African markets; both China and the EU already have free trade agreements of some sort with the continent.
The challenge the countries of the East African Community face will be how they can compete on a global scale with more advanced and experienced economies; the advice from America will be crucial to their success.
Trade between Africa and China hits high:http://www.africa.businesschief.com/finance/1099/Trade-between-China-and-Africa-hits-high
Is Germany about to make significant African Investment? http://www.africa.businesschief.com/finance/1840/Is-Germany-about-to-make-significant-African-investment
US and South Africa in AGOA chicken trade row: http://www.africa.businesschief.com/finance/1835/US-and-South-Africa-in-AGOA-chicken-trade-row
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.