Rwanda, Kenya sign partnership deal with Europe
Written by: Our Reporter
Friday, September 2nd, 2016, 6:28
Rwanda and Kenya on Thursday signed a trade deal which will lead to a partial and gradual opening of their markets to imports from the European Union.
However being a single customs territory, the other EAC members – Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan must also sign the pact to make it enforceable.
The EPAs is intended to guarantee the EAC traders duty-and-quota free access to the EU market in exchange for a gradual opening of up to 80 per cent of the region’s market to European products.
The move comes hardly four months after the region’s council of ministers reached the decision earlier in the year to have the EAC sign the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).
The EPA signing was expected on July 18 but new deadline was set on September 30 because the EAC states are divided on whether the deal will benefit the infant local manufactures or will see the European giant investors dominate the EAC market.
Tanzania is strongly opposed to the deal and its representatives stated in July that it would not sign up, criticizing it for being harmful for the region’s infant industries.
Uganda was also skeptical about signing but has now indicated that it will join next week during a heads-of-state summit in Tanzania.
The east African bloc has been negotiating the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union since 2007, a pact that will open up European markets for products such as flowers, fruit and vegetables.
Kenya was particularly eager to have the EPA signed in order to keep hold of its market in Europe, which it is scheduled to lose by the end of September after graduating to middle-income status.
Though each partner state has to sign the EPA with EU individually, the EAC had undertaken negotiations as a bloc and that, despite Thursday’s signing, will obviously block the EPA if any partner state fails to sign by this month.