EAC-EU trade agreements continue to stall

15 October 2013

With both Burundi and Tanzania recently cancelling meetings with EU ministers, prospects for an economic partnership agreement between the East African Community and the European Union continue to look dim.

According to the East African newspaper, Burundi and Tanzania declined to attend after they were sidelined in tripartite meetings between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Stating that they were not yet ready to engage in renewed discussion, these countries prevent the entire economic bloc from reaching a deal by the original October 2014 deadline.

In fact, only Kenya and Uganda have so far confirmed talks. In specific, Kenya has little motivation to wait for the other four members of the EAC, as it is the only country that does not fall in the category of Least Developed Countries. Therefore without EPA Kenya would trade with the EU under the GSP scheme which is less favorable.

With the EU accounting for 31 per cent of Kenya's export market, or about 1.2 USD billion annually, "Kenya has no option but to sign the agreement", a senior EAC official stated. Therefore, as seen in the case of ECOWAS, Cote d'Ivoire, and Ghana, Kenya may continue to sign interim trade agreements with the EU, potentially stifling the region's motivation to create a common market.

Sources: The East African, 12 october 2013

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