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Monday, 25 October 2010

Uganda set to sign economic partnership pacts

Two years since the five East African partner states and the European Union (EU) initialed a text of the frame-work agreement for the East African Community (EAC)-EU, Economic Partnership Agreement. (EPA), the region is yet to sign the document. But driven by the broader market space of close to 130 million people expected to trigger expansion of the common market opportunities, and despite the cautions from Civil Society Organisations (EAC) to the EAC states to re-think and go slow on signing a comprehensive EPA, Uganda, apparently, seems to have made up her mind to sign it. At a one day dialogue on EPA and Opportunities in the EAC, organized the Ministry of Tourism Trade and Industry in conjunction with EA related trade and private Sector Support (EPA TAPSS) programme, in Kampala recently, Uganda's state Minister for Trade Nelson Gagawala, reiterated the country's position saying Uganda will sign the EPA. The EAC Common market was launched on July 1, 2010 after the protocol establishing it was signed in November 2009. The market is important to Uganda and her EAC counterparts because it consolidates economic, social and political ties and creates immense opportunities. The EAC Secretariat convened a joint EAC-EC-EPA Ministerial meeting in Dar-es-salaam from the June 7- 9, 2010 to enable the two parties sign the Framework EPA (FEPA). However there was failure to sign the FEPA and the parties agreed to negotiate outstanding issues in the interim EPA together with comprehensive EPA by November 2010. "The reality today is that the European Union (EU) and the EAC have not even agreed on a timetable for further negotiations to meet the November 2010 deadline," a statement from Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) said. This state of affairs has also been reportedly met by uncertainty in the European Union on how to instill momentum in the EPA negotiations.

Source: East African Business Week