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Thursday, 07 April 2011

Economic partnership agreement trade talks stall

Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between East African Community and the European Union are reported to have stalled, EAC sources said in Arusha on Sunday. This follows an objection by the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) to the use of funds mobilised by the secretariat from a development partner to facilitate the process. The regional Assembly, currently meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, is particularly objecting the use of money from the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) to finance the process. It argues that using a grant from Sida to finance the talks would not only compromise negotiations to the partner states’ detriment “but would as well prejudice and weaken any stronger stance the latter may adopt on the negotiations”. EAC council of ministers, the policy organ of the Community, deliberated on the stalled talks during its just-ended 23rd extra-ordinary meeting in the Rwandan capital. An EAC spokesperson said that the two organs of the community, the secretariat and Eala, its legislative arm, have differed on funding of the talks which have dragged on for years. “The negotiations stalled as a result of the objection by Eala members to the use of funds mobilised by the EAC secretariat from Sida to facilitate the process,” a senior official said. He said that the council has requested regional MPs to reconsider their position on the Sida grant amounting to $3.48 million estimated to cover the process. The source said the EAC-EU/EPA talks would remain stalled for the time being until the regional assembly approves expenditure of the grant for the purpose or until money is sourced from elsewhere.

Source: nation.co.ke

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