DAR ES SALAAM
Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian local
industry leaders on Friday commended the East African Community
(EAC) leaders for rejecting to sign a trade deal with the
European Union before the Oct. 1 deadline.
Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) and the Tanzania
Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) praised President John Magufuli
for showing leadership by successfully convincing fellow EAC
presidents to reject signing a much-criticized trade agreement.
It would be "foolish" for Tanzania to accept the deal, said
the leaders of the two organizations.
The pact, known as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA),
gives products from EAC member states duty- and quota-free
access to the EU as long as they meet health and safety
Kenya and Rwanda signed the agreement earlier this month,
putting pressure on Tanzania and other EAC member states of
Burundi and Uganda to follow suit.
But President Magufuli on Thursday chaired an EAC heads of
state summit in Dar es Salaam and managed to sway all regional
leaders to agree to put off the signing of the deal for at least
three months to give the countries more time to discuss the
possible impacts of the pact on local industries.
Despite Kenya and Rwanda signing the EPA deal, it still
needed approval from all members of the EAC bloc to take effect.
"This issue needs further dialogue between the government and
private sector so as to come up with the best decision on the
way forward," said the CTI director of policy and advocacy,
He hailed Tanzania’s decision to delay signing the deal,
saying the country needs to be very cautious before agreeing to
"Even without EPA, Tanzania enjoys access to European markets
through other preferential trade arrangements, such as the Trade
Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the Everything But Arms (EBA)
initiative, in which Tanzanian business people benefit from
them," said Kamote.
TPSF executive director, Godfrey Simbeye, expressed his
delight at the rejection of the deal, saying it would have spelt
doom for the government’s much-taunted industrialization plan.
President Magufuli laid out a strong case against the EPA
pact in the EAC summit that was attended by Ugandan president
Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame.
"There are so many issues which demanded a correct solution.
One of the issues was how our community can protect its
industries after allowing access to the import of European
goods," said Magufuli.
"Tanzania was very hesitant to sign this agreement because we
have embarked on a plan to industrialize our economy ... our
industries cannot compete with European industries," Magufuli
Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa has also for years
been one of the most vocal critics of the EPA deal, saying it
was a bad agreement for Tanzania and the entire east African