The third negotiations session between the East African Community (EAC) Partner States and the European Commission (EC) on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) ended today at the Mlimani City Conference Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to consider outstanding issues in the Framework Agreement.
The EAC delegation, which was led by Hon. Dr. Mary Nagu, Tanzania’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Marketing, comprised of Hon. Amason Jeffah Kingi, Kenya’s Minister of EAC and his Deputy, Hon. Peter Munya; Hon Amos Kimunya, Kenya’s Minister of Trade; Hon. Wycliffe Oparanya, Kenya’s Minister of Planning and National Development; and the Attorney General, Hon. Amos Wako. Others included Hon. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Rwanda’s Minister of Trade and Industry; Hon. Kahinda Otafiire, Uganda’s Minister of Tourism, Trade and Industry; and officials from Burundi’s Ministry of Trade and Industry.
The Commissioner of Trade at the EU, Mr. Karel De Gucht, led the EC delegation; and was accompanied by Amb. Tim Clarke, Head of EC Mission in the EAC based in Dar es Salaam; Mr. Peter Thompson from EC Directorate of Trade; Mrs. Henriette Geiger of Directorate of Development; and other senior EC officials.
The EAC Secretariat was represented by the Director General of the Directorate of Customs and Trade, Mr. Peter Kiguta; the Director for Trade, Dr. Flora Musonda; the Principal International Trade Officer, Mr. Gerald Ajumbo; and other senior officials. Honourable Members of Parliament of Tanzania and the East African Legislative Assembly; representatives of the ACP and COMESA Secretariats; as well as the Civil Society were also in attendance.
Hon. Dr. Mary Michael Nagu, Tanzania’s Minister for Industry, Trade and Marketing told participants attending a one-day Joint EAC-EU-EPA Workshop that the East African Community (EAC) Partner States and the European Union (EU) initialled a Framework Economic Partnership Agreement (FEPA) on 27 November, 2007 in Kampala, Uganda and Parties undertook to continue the negotiations of the (FEPA) with a view to concluding a comprehensive EPA.
She said the Framework Agreement comprises of Market Access on Trade in Goods, Development Cooperation issues and Fisheries. In the initialled FEPA, the EAC offered to liberalize 82.6% of her trade with the EU, and retained an exclusion list accounting to 17.4% of the trade with EU. On its part EU has offered Quota Free Duty Free Market Access with exception of ammunition; and transitional arrangement for sugar and rice. However, the main challenge in accessing the EU market has continued to be stringent Rules of Origin.
As the EAC Region inches closer to the finalisation of the FEPA, it was proper to conduct the workshop to provide an opportunity to disseminate and share critical information on EPA with stakeholders.
The Cotonou Agreement from which EPA bears allegiance sets out clearly that the EPA process was supposed to be ?all-inclusive?. The Government, Members of Parliament, Private sector, Academia, CSO’s, NGOs, Media and the public at large need to be effectively involved. It is on the basis of this understanding that the workshop had been organised to promote awareness and creating ownership of the EPA process to wider stakeholders’ forum.
Development co-operation is an integral part of the EPA to ensure that the EAC Partner States are able to adjust to the new challenges and to maximize the benefits from the opportunities offered by the Agreement, noted Hon. Dr. Nagu.
It is in this spirit that both Parties affirmed their recognition of development needs of the EAC region and their commitment to ensure that EPA is an addition to development that will promote and consolidate regional integration and fast track the integration of the EAC into the global economy. If this commitment is fulfilled, it will enable EAC countries to address the development needs associated with the EPA and promote the sustainable growth and eventually reduce poverty, observed the Minister. It is imperative that these dimensions were reflected in both the Framework Economic Partnership Agreement commonly known as FEPA and the Full EPA.
The Hon. Minister noted that the outstanding issues were Economic and Development Cooperation, Export Taxes, and Most Favoured Nation Treatment (MFN) clauses. Economic development issues were pertinent in addressing supply side constraints which had hampered EAC economies from benefiting from the market opportunities provided by predecessor arrangements the Lome Conventions and EBA. Export taxes and Most Favoured Nation Treatment (MFN) clauses limit policy space to EAC Partner States to take remedial measures for their economic benefits, asserted the Minister.
At the end of the Ministerial session, a joint EAC-EC Communique was issued on the Framework for an Economic Partnership Agreement (FEPA) and negotiations for the comprehensive EPA [see attachment].
Source: East African Community (EAC)