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Thursday, 30 June 2016

EABC in fresh push for EPA deal

The East African Business Council (EABC) has underscored the importance for the East African Community (EAC) partner states to fast track the signing of a new trade regime with the European Union (EU). Though EAC partner states have proposed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signing ceremony to be in the first week of the August, this year, the EABC recommends18th July, 2016 to take advantage of the EU Commissioner for Trade who will be in Nairobi attending UNCTAD XIV Conference. The EABC expectations are that ministers for trade from all EAC member states will also attend the UNCTAD Conference and therefore could be able to sign the EAC-EU-EPA on the same date in order to project the region as a functional Customs Union. The EABC Chief Executive Officer, Ms Lilian Awinja, says further delay in signing the pact will hamper exports from EAC partner states to the EU market. “Failure to meet EU deadline on ratification will force EAC exports to EU attract import duty especially for Kenya which is considered as developing country while other four countries Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi which are considered Least Developed Countries (LDCs) may force to opt for Everything But Army (EBA) trade arrangement which has more complicated rules of origin,” Ms Awinja explains. According to EABC boss, the July 18th signing will give EAC Partner States ample time to ratify the Agreement, before 1st October, 2016 the deadline set unilaterally by EU. To make the matter worse, come 1st January 2017 Kenya will be removed from the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSPs) trade regime for live plants and floriculture products, hence attracting even more duties under the Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) rates. This means Kenyan exporters would be subjected to import duties of between 5 per cent and 8.5 per cent.

Source: Daily News Tanzania

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