Ugandan Kassim Omar has been elected to chair the region's trade lobby, East African Business Council (EABC), for the next one year.
Mr Omar, the chairman of the Uganda Clearing Industry and Forwarding Association, takes over from Burundi's Federal Chamber of Commerce president, Audace Ndayizeye.
Speaking after he was elected at the Serena Hotel in Kampala on Friday, Mr Omar said he would focus on getting governments in the region to pass laws that prohibit illicit trade.
According to him, illicit trade in sub-standard goods from outside of East Africa is one of the major challenges facing the region’s business community.
Mr Omar also said that he would work to build the EABC financial capacity including growing membership numbers that currently stand at 140.
He pointed out that one of the EABC’s weaknesses was that it lacked visibility. "With increased financing and a stronger secretariat," Mr Omar said, "this problem will be easy to fix."
"A stronger and visible EABC will be able to get concessions from governments more easily than has been the case previously," he added.