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TEXIT: Tanzania pulls out of EU sponsored economic partnership

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian authorities have said they were pulling out of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union (EU) bloc.

The announcement made the east African nation, the second largest economy in the region, the first to pull out of the EPAs from the East African Community (EAC) member countries.

The EPAs were meant to allow the EAC bloc to trade directly with the EU countries.

Aziz Mlima, the country’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the move was aimed at protecting the country’s infant economy now that the government was spearheading the establishment of an industrial economy.

According to political and economic observers, Tanzania’s pullout from the EU-sponsored economic agreements will likely spell a big blow to Kenya, a member of the EAC bloc which had intense interest in the deals as they benefited its flower exports to EU countries.

Mlima said besides protecting local industries, there was still some confusion following the United Kingdom’s vote to withdrawal from the EU about two weeks ago.

"The possible biggest harm derived from signing the EPAs is turning small countries’ economies into international markets for developed countries’ products, hence killing their local industries," he said.

He added that apart from economic interests, signing of EPAs on July 18, this year, for Tanzania was too early given that it needed more time to study the agreements by various public departments and private stakeholders.

He said other individual EAC countries of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan were free to sign the EPAs if they felt they would benefit from them.

A renowned economist, Samuel Wangwe, commended the move, saying it had no benefits to Tanzania as it favoured Kenya with its flowers and vegetables exports to EU countries duty free.

"EPA won’t help in promoting our local industries but rather, will benefit a lot given that developing countries have standard goods to sell in EA markets," he said.

The Minister for Industry and Trade, Charles Mwijage, also commended the move, saying EPA agreements were tricky as EU allowed goods exports despite being aware that African countries could not meet international standards due to their smaller economies.

He said allowing EU goods to freely flood the EAC meant killing local industries and turning the country into a source of raw materials.

In May, this year, Tanzanian former President Benjamin Mkapa warned East African leaders over embracing EPAs; saying they could negatively impact the countries’ pre-mature economy.

Mkapa said signing EPA could hinder development pass-way of EA countries and lead them into de-industrialization, adding that he did not understand how such a powerful bloc like the EU could have trade agreement with developing countries.

European countries have been soliciting EA countries signing EPA through offering customs-free access to their (European) markets, especially for Kenyan products.


Tanzania’s inflation rises to 5.5 pct in June

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzania’s inflation rate rose to 5.5 percent in June from 5.2 percent recorded a month before, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Friday.

NBS Director of Population Census and Social Statistics, Ephraim Kwesigabo, said the inflation was pushed higher by rising food prices during the holy month of Ramadan.

He said annual inflation rate for food consumed at home and away from home increased to 8.3 percent in June from 7.2 percent registered in May.

Some food items that sent inflation higher included maize grains, cassava flour, fresh fish, clotted milk, green beans, and fresh cassava.

However, non-food items had also played its role in the rising of the inflation, said Kwesigabo, adding that dental services and diesel and petrol have contributed to the high inflation.


Brexit impacts African markets: report

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- African markets will suffer from market volatility as a result of Brexit, a global consulting firm Control Risks said on Friday.

The short-term implications of Brexit for African economies will be mainly noticeable through market volatility, the firm said in a report.

And the longer-term impacts are speculative and depend as much on the attitude of future British governments as on the terms of exit, according to its report released in Johannesburg.

The longer term implications—both economic and geopolitical—hinge on what the terms of Britain leaving the EU are, and how this feeds through transmission mechanism to Africa through trade, aid and soft power and political influence, said the report.

"Ultimately, the impact of Brexit for the continent will be defined by the global agenda in the coming months.

"As political risk has increased in the traditionally safe havens of Europe and with the election in the U.S. later this year, there is less scope for international cooperation to address issues of particular relevance to African countries such as peace and security issues, development, impacts of climate change," said Jean Devlin, Director for Africa Analysis, at Control Risks.

"We see the longer-term impacts as a continuation of the relative decline of European powers’influence on the continent that has been a feature of the past decade with increasingly diverse sources of investment from outside Africa," he said.

Britain will still retain cultural and trade links through the commonwealth, but outside the EU bloc will likely be more reliant on its own diplomatic channels, Devlin said.

This will especially be the case in countries where it has fewer historical ties such as Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Angola and many smaller francophone or Lusophone countries.

Many observers in Africa see the UK’s "Leave" vote as a sign that Britain will become a more inwardly-focused country with less focus and interest in upholding commitments to human rights and inclusive global development.

Whether this is perception or reality, the influence of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) on the development agenda is likely to change, the report said.

DFID has played an influential role over the past 15-20 years in setting a progressive agenda for EU development aid.




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