EAC Comes Under Question Over Trade Deal with Europe
The East African Community (EAC) is being questioned after negotiations over a trade deal with Europe revealed cracks in the bloc’s unity.
Member nations were expected to sign an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU this week, but now some states are opposing the deal. This comes after the bloc initially agreed on the terms, while Kenya and Rwanda both signed the EPA on September 1.
Fractures appear in the EAC
Questions first arose on September 1 when Kenya and Rwanda signed the EPA ahead of other member states. Back in May, it was proposed all EAC partner states would sign the agreement on the same date. It was supposed to be a show of solidarity from the bloc, which would be seen making a joint agreement in unison.
Kenya and Rwanda were widely criticised for signing the deal without their fellow partners, but things have deteriorated even further since. Now Tanzania and Burundi are refusing to sign the agreement and the deal is stuck in deadlock.
Uganda expected to sign soon
Uganda’s deputy prime minister Kirunda Kivejinja confirmed this week his country’s intentions to sign the agreement at “an appropriate time soon”. Until recently, Uganda was a major stumbling block for the EPA but the country made a U-turn last week and said it was ready to sign.
In the case of Tanzania and Burundi, their U-turns are in the opposite direction with both country’s now refusing the sign the deal.
“Tanzania will not sign the economic partnership agreement (EPA) until several issues are addressed,” Tanzania Minister of Foreign Affairs Augustine Mahiga told journalists on Wednesday.
The two countries have been heavily criticised for delaying proceedings. It’s no secret within the bloc that Kenya stands to lose the most if the deal is delayed or falls through altogether. Tanzania and Burundi are both being called on to act in the best interests of the region bloc, rather than exploit the deal for national gains.