East African
East Africans Looks To Single Customs Territory

A regional summit scheduled to be held in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha on Monday has been postponed to the end of March.

The East African Heads of States Summit that was to discuss among other issues the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs) will now be held on April 6, said a statement from the East Africa Community (EAC) secretariat.

The statement indicates that the 18th EAC Summit will be preceded by other technical meetings starting on March 30.

The postponement of the summit, the statement indicates, was caused by two countries in the region that said they have other activities on the dates planned, and thus requested the meeting to start on March 30 climaxing with the summit on April 6.

Chris Kiptoo, Kenya’s Principal Secretary in charge of Trade confirmed on Monday that that meeting was postponed to a later date.

He said the meeting was to be held on Monday in Arusha and one of the agenda for discussion is the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

Kiptoo explained EAC countries are supposed to sign as a bloc so that they can enjoy quota and duty free market access.

All the EAC countries ought to have signed the EPAs as a bloc with the European Union (EU) by Feb 2. The deadline is over but only Kenya has signed and ratified and Rwanda has only signed.

Tanzania has refused to sign, claiming the agreement would have serious consequences for its revenues and the growth of its industries. Uganda has expressed a commitment to append its signature but insist Tanzania must first be on board.

Burundi, which has been sanctioned by the EU following political upheavals, says it will not sign the trade deal until the sanctions are withdrawn. Tanzania demands renegotiation of the some of the EPAs clauses.

Kenya is the only country categorized as developing nation within the bloc while the other four are classified as least developing countries.

Trade analysts warned that Kenya will lose the most and slapped with a wave of taxes on produce entering EU market as the other member states will continue getting duty and quota free access under EU’s Everything but Arms initiative.

EU is Kenya’s biggest export destination, taking up cut flowers, French beans, fruit, fish, textiles, coffee and tea. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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