Tanzania still weighing EPA decision as deadline looms

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Tanzania says it won’t sign the deal until it has done an in-depth analysis taking into account the prevailing circumstances, particularly with regard to issues such as Brexit.

Kenya and Rwanda appended their signatures to the trade pact in Brussels last week while Uganda said it was keen on signing.

Tanzania told the 34th meeting of the Council of Ministers in Arusha that it would not sign the trade agreement until it has done an in-depth analysis.

The deadline for the East African countries to append their signatures on the trade agreement is October 1, 2016.

East African heads of state will on Thursday face an uphill task in trying to salvage the region’s trade relations with the European Union (EU) after Tanzania joined Burundi in insisting it will not sign the contentious Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs).

Kenya and Rwanda appended their signatures to the trade pact in Brussels last week while Uganda said it was keen on signing the agreement given that the partner states have a five-year window to review the contentious areas.

It also said trade with the East, which Tanzania appears to favour, or under the unilateral Everything But Arms protocol that all EAC countries save Kenya can fall back on, was not sustainable when compared to EPA..

However, Tanzania told the 34th meeting of the Council of Ministers in Arusha that it would not sign the trade agreement until it has done an in-depth analysis taking into account the prevailing circumstances, particularly with regard to issues such as Brexit.

Burundi said it does not find her economic interest taken into account in view of the current trade agreement with the EU and in particular in the context of her current relations with the EU.

Approaching deadline

The Extra Ordinary Summit of the EAC heads of state takes place Thursday (September 8, 2016) in Arusha, Tanzania.

The deadline for the East African countries to append their signatures on the trade agreement is October 1, 2016.

Failure by the EAC countries to sign the agreement as a bloc would see Kenyan products in the European market start attracting duty due to its status as a developing nation.

Its regional counterparts — Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi—which are classified as Least developed countries (LDCs), would continue enjoying duty free access to the EU market under the ‘Everything but Arms’ arrangement.

By agencies

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