NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
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)
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.
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
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will not sign the trade deal until the sanctions are withdrawn.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.
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.