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East Africa further delays decision on EU's Economic Partnership Agreement

East Africa further delays decision on EU's Economic Partnership Agreement

Tanzania

The East African Community (EAC) has extended its decision on the European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) for another three months for further deliberations.

At the regional bloc’s 17th Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State in Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam, the host country Tanzania and Uganda asked for more time to assess the agreement which has already been signed by Kenya and Rwanda at the EU headquarters in Belgium this month.

Kenya and Rwanda’s signature will not take effect till it is signed as a bloc.

The deadline for signing the EPA trade deal is October 1, 2016 and the bloc called on the EU not to penalise Kenya with huge tariffs on exports for missing the deadline as a member of the bloc.

“I had to read all 146 EPA articles so we know what we’re talking about. Give us three months and we shall give a collective answer which is better than fragmented ones. Don’t punish Kenya because it is one or two inches taller than others, that is not fair,” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni appealed.

Tanzania’s president John Magufuli raised doubts over the agreement especially to its effect on local industries.

“In Tanzania, we have already resolved to create an industrialised economy; so if we are to adopt this agreement the way it is right now, the question would be how can we safeguard those industries from competition with European industries?” he questioned.

Burundi has opted out of signing the agreement due to the EU embargo on the country because of the ongoing political unrest.

The EAC and the EU have gone back and forth since 2007 on the EPA which is expected to give a reciprocal duty-free access to the EU.

The EAC consists of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda. The newly inducted member is South Sudan.

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