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Regional trade body urges EAC to
ensure better terms with investors    

DAR ES SALAAM, (Xinhua) -- The Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI), a regional non-governmental organization, on Tuesday urged East African Community (EAC) member states to ensure better terms with investors and protect the rights of both governments and the communities.

The EAC member countries of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan are currently preparing an EAC investment model treaty which, among other things, emphasizes on the need to have common grounds of negotiations with investors.

SEATINI Uganda Country Director Jane Nalunga recommended a more people-centered approach to investment policy and deal-making.

“We in the EAC must establish a common investment negotiation model to avoid competing against each other and balance between the protection of investors’ rights and community rights,” she told a regional Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) workshop in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

According to Nalunga, some EAC countries provided too many incentives to investors and offered them too many years of tax holidays, thus posing unnecessary competition.

To come up with the best EAC investment model treaty, she said, countries should ensure wide participation of stakeholders and consider their opinions so as to make the region one investment destination and the most attractive.

Nalunga said investment is an important element in the EAC partner states’ development journey since they bring fresh capital, technology, competitive spirit and jobs.

She said most investment promotion initiatives including policies, laws and agreements being developed, negotiated and signed in the region are focused on growing foreign direct investments (FDIs) inflows as the cornerstone of development.

Kigali-based regional and international trade consultant, John Bosco Kanyangoga, faulted the EAC governments over their failure to negotiate better deals with investors.

“There are no win-win situation in most of the signed FDI agreements...we always settle for less,” he said, adding that the countries lacked proper regulatory and monitoring systems which lead to all the invested funds transferred back to Europe.

In 2016, an EAC trade report said FDI created an estimated 2.48 million jobs in construction, manufacturing, real estate, wholesale, business services, retail and tourism.

Investments, apart from job creation and innovation, also drive trade and industrialization, and contribute to greater tax revenue generation, said the report.

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