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Monday, 13 February 2017

EAC Heads of State set to address stalled EPAs

Kenya will later this month know whether its bid to build a customs union with its neighbours still holds. East African Heads of State will meet in Arusha on February 28, where one of the items on the agenda will be the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Trade Principal secretary Chris Kiptoo told People Daily in a telephone interview that EAC countries are supposed to sign the EPAs as a bloc so that they can enjoy quota and duty-free market access. However, he said, Kenya has no issue to raise during the summit on the EPAs as it has already signed and ratified the trade pact with EU. “As required under the principles of the EPAs Kenya has signed and ratified the trade protocol, only awaiting the other partners to follow suit. But all the EAC countries are individually supposed to sign and ratify the trade deal and collectively sign the document with the EU,” said the PS. The deadline for the EAC member states to sign the trade agreement as a bloc was set for October 1, 2016 but there has been resistance from some countries. The EU parliament, on request by Kenya, agreed to extend the deadline to February 2. The deadline is over and only two countries have signed. Kenya has signed and ratified while Rwanda has only signed. Tanzania has refused to sign, claiming the agreement would have serious consequences for its revenues and the growth of its industries. Uganda has expressed a commitment to append its signature while Burundi—which has been sanctioned by the EU following political upheaval—says it will not sign the trade deal until the sanctions are withdrawn. Tanzania demands renegotiation of the some of the EPAs clauses such as the European Development Fund and seeks clarification on losses to be incurred after the liberalisation of trade. Kenya is the only country categorised as developing within the bloc while the other four are classified as least developed nations.

Source: www.mediamaxnetwork.co.ke

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