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Europe’s growing interest in EAC to boost integration

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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Europe’s growing interest in EAC to boost integration

The growing interest of European governments in the East African Community is set to unlock foreign funding and attract technical support to accelerate the remaining phases of integration. European countries had previously expressed misgivings at the rapid pace of EAC’s integration but have now started establishing diplomatic ties with Arusha, with Turkey, the Netherlands, and Denmark taking the lead. The European Union has also appointed its head of delegation to Tanzania, Timothy Clarke, as its representative to EAC. Soren Pind, Danish Minister for cooperation, said merging the economies of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi was quicker because of experiences with the East African Community before it collapsed in 1977. “These countries also share common trading interest and have shown strong political will to move the integration agenda forward,” Pind said in Nairobi on Wednesday. In only 10 years after reviving its integration project, the EAC has managed to negotiate and launch both the custom union and common market protocols, setting stage for the rollout of the monetary union next year – the region’s 12th year of integration. This has raised concerns that some of the stages were implemented without proper consultations, leading to the many non-tariff barriers currently undermining intra-regional trade, especially when viewed against the EU which took 42 years to become a monetary union. Stephen O’Brien, the UK’s Development minister, said regional integration in Africa will stir the international community’s interest to raise the level of funding that the continent needs to meet its millennium development goals. Donors fund 52 percent of the EAC budget. […]
On Wednesday, the Netherlands became the latest EU state to approve Sh1.1 billion (€10 million) in support of Trade Mark East Africa’s (TMEA) initiative which seeks to automate and increase capacity of the region’s ports and export corridors, cutting the cost of doing business in the region by 40 percent. […] Other European governments such as the United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium, and Sweden have already put their money in the TMEA project, joining Germany which is currently involved in the construction of the EAC’s headquarters at a cost of €14 million.

Sorce: Trade Law Centre for South Africa