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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

EAC Member States on the EPA : Which way will they jump?

As we have been informing our readers in recent weeks, the EPA issue ensures that EAC members states do not go unnoticed.  According to recent reports, former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa has noted that there are three options on the table for the EACs to choose from, as the negotiations on the EPA will enter their final round next month.
The first option would be for Kenya alone to sign the EPA. However, Mr. Mkapa warns that if the country moves in this direction, “it would devastate the EAC Customs Union” as Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda might refuse to open up their markets to Kenya and thereby avoid EU goods flooding into their markets.
The second option would be for all EAC members to sign the EPA. According to the East African, in such a case developing countries in the World Trade Organisation would have to cut their tariffs to zero for at least 80 per cent of trade with the EU. Mkapa has said this would have far-reaching ramifications for the ability of the region to industrialise.
The third option is for EAC member states to walk away from the EPA. Although Mkapa has recognised that this option could be detrimental to Kenya, as it might lose its preferential position with the EU vis-a-vis flowers, he has stressed the importance of opening up the EAC market to the EU and the real danger of not being able to industrialise in the future.
The EU represents an important trade partner for the EAC region, with around $4.8 billion of imports from the EU – mainly oil products, medicines, machinery and mechanical equipment, cars, aircraft and electrical appliances – and around $3.18 billion of exports to the EU – mainly coffee, tea, fresh cut flowers – as per 2010 trade data.

Source: The East African