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Thursday, 22 August 2019

The European Union is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries, which began after World War 2 to foster economic co-operation amongst states. It evolved into a single market with most countries adopting a single currency and allowed for the free transit of members throughout the member states. This was viewed as advantageous to some, but most Britons, to be exact 52 per cent to 48 per cent, thought it best to part ways with the EU.

The Brexit vote has ushered in a new era of uncertainty for African economies due to forecast declines in investment and development assistance, as well as trade. But there may be an upside for Africa to the UK’s historic decision to leave the European Union. A key issue in the referendum was the UK’s ability to independently negotiate trade agreements without having to conform to EU rules and regulations. The vote opens up the possibility of competition between the EU and the UK for African partnerships.

The last few months have seen some significant developments for African trade and integration. These advances come at a crucial time for African countries, which have been particularly hard hit by the slump in commodity prices, China’s economic downturn, and higher external borrowing costs. This has resulted in slower GDP growth than expected, currency fluctuations and reduced investment – particularly in resource-rich countries. New dynamics are emerging as a result of two major developments: first, a set of agreements between regional African blocs and the European Union, as well as between African countries themselves. Second, Brexit may change the thrust of African trade with both the EU and Britain.

Amb. Michael Ryan, the head of European Union Delegation to Rwanda has commended Rwanda's commitment to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and East African Community member states. "I am very much encouraged by the approach of Rwanda. The approach of Trade Minister Francois Kanimba is very much in favour of the EPA and we would see no EAC country lose the ratification of the EPA with EU," , Amb. Ryan told journalists yesterday after his visit to Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa at the Parliament buildings in Kigali.

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