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EAC-EU trade deal risks flopping again over funds dilemma, litigious clause

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Friday, 03 December 2010

EAC-EU trade deal risks flopping again over funds dilemma, litigious clause

The long awaited signing of a trade partnership between East African Community member states and the European Union this month, could flop once again due to a lack of funds to initiate negotiations.Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in charge of the EAC Ministry, David Nalo says that the secretariat lacks funds to convene member states ahead of the Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations.It is also emerging that EAC members states are unhappy with some clauses of the partnership, which they say will hinder them from freely trading with other partners.A document titled Progress on the EAC-EC-EPA Negotiations, seen by The EastAfrican, indicates that among the contentious issues between the two camps is Article 16 of the framework.Under this clause, the European Commission insists that in the event EAC countries open up more trade under a Free Trade Area with major trading economies, (whom EC defines as countries whose share in total global trade is at least one per cent), same benefits should be passed to the EU.EPAs experts say the article is a hindrance to economic growth because it locks EAC’s trade with other blocs even where terms are more favourable.