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EU optimistic of trade deal with East African Community

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The EU on Monday expressed optimism that member states of the East African Community (EAC) will sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

Alessandro Tonoli, Trade adviser with EU Delegation to Kenya said the EAC Heads of State last year expressed the willingness to move ahead as a bloc so that they can continue enjoying the duty and quote free market.

“We fully respect this and want to support EAC regional integration. We understand that our partners need some time to continue their internal process,” Tonoli said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

“The EU respects the decision making process in the region and that we hope that the countries that have not done so yet will sign soon so that the EPA can be implemented and provide benefits to the region,” he added.

He observed that negotiations went on for many years because the EPA deals with very complex issues, providing modern mechanisms to address them.

Kenya’s Trade and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed last week assured that Nairobi still has access to the EU market despite that the other East African countries failed to sign the EPAs.

Mohamed said Kenya could only be limited to enjoy duty and quota free access market if the other countries completely fail to sign as outlined in the trade protocol. 

“Kenya has complied with the first condition of the EPAs protocol of signing and ratifying it. However, Kenya is likely to lose on other benefits such as European Development Fund (EDF) as the same demands signing of the trade framework be executed by the entire bloc,” Mohamed said.

“We are hoping that during the next EAC summit scheduled next month, positive outcome will be realized so that there can be a smooth trade between the region and EU,” he added.

All the EAC countries ought to have signed the EPAs as a bloc with the EU by Feb. 2. The CS confirmed that Kenya signed and ratified the document mid last year while Rwanda has only signed.

Tanzania has delayed the full actualization of the pact and 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 insists Tanzania must be on board first.

Burundi which has been sanctioned by the EU following political upheavals says it will not sign the trade deal until the sanctions are withdrawn.



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