The East African Community (EAC) leaders have requested for three months to settle concerns by some states before considering signing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) as a block.
Rwanda and Kenya had signed, but the objections to the EPA were led by Tanzania. The agreement was expected to be signed by EAC as a block in July but it was pushed until October 1, after requests from the member countries.
Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Dr Augustine Mahiga earlier stressed the EPA agreement needed several amendments for it to be agreeable. Tanzania argued several changes were required following the exit of Britain from the EU.
Mahiga accused the the EU of pushing EAC to sign that agreement that was drafted 14 years ago.
“This agreement is very strong and prior to signing we need to consider the EAC treaty and by signing differently we are likely to kill the EAC customs union,’’ he said.
The 17th Extra-Ordinary EAC summit Thursday in Dar es Salaam Tanzania called on the EU not to penalise Kenya due to the delay on the matter.
The summit was attended by Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Tanzania’s John Pombe Joseph Magufuli who is chairperson of the summit, Uganda’s Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto and Amb. Alain Aimè Nyamitwe, Burundi’s Minister of external relations who represented president Pierre Nkuruzinza. In attendance also were Ali Mohamed Shein, president of Zanzibar, and Aggrey Tisa Sabuni, special envoy of South Sudan’s Salva Kiir.
The heads of state directed the council of ministers to avail a budget for the Inter-Burundi dialogue after receiving a report from the facilitator Benjamin Mkapa . The summit endorsed all the recommendations as proposed in Mkapa’s report.
The heads of state congratulated the people and the government of South Sudan for the timely depositing of the instruments of ratification of the treaty of accession of their country this week into the East African Community. South Sudan will be integrated into the EAC at the 18th summit in November, 2016.
New Deputy Sec General
Rwanda’s Christophe Bazivamo was confirmed as Deputy Secretary General for a three year term and the summit heads presided over his swearing in ceremony.