Kenya may seek change of rules on EU trade deal

There are fears thatTan­za­nia may opt out of the Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship Agree­ment again in Jan­uary dur­ing the EAC heads of state sum­mit in Nairobi

The Star (Kenya) - - News - CON­STANT MUNDA AND WEITERE MWITA @TheS­tarKenya

Kenya might pro­pose a change of rules in ne­go­ti­at­ing for the long-stand­ing free trade deal be­tween the East African Com­mu­nity and the Euro­pean Union as a last op­tion.

This is if Tan­za­nia opts out of the pact again in Jan­uary dur­ing the EAC heads of state sum­mit in Nairobi.

Trade Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary Chris Kip­too has, how­ever, down­played grow­ing anxiety that the south-neigh­bour­ing na­tion may not sign the Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship Agree­ment that guar­an­tees quota and duty-free mar­ket ac­cess to the EU. Re­ports have in­di­cated that Tan­za­nian Par­lia­ment voted against the trade deal a fort­night ago, while a Tan­za­nian lawyer has filed a case at the East African Court of Jus­tice in a bid to block the EPA.

The EU trade ar­range­ment for African, Caribbean and Pa­cific coun­tries has been on the ta­ble since 2007.

The five East African Com­mu­nity coun­tries de­cided to ne­go­ti­ate the deal as a bloc in spirit of the Com­mon Mar­ket pro­to­col which came into force in July 2010.

“The jour­ney will con­tinue be­cause EPA as de­signed is to be signed by all for it to be im­ple­mented,” Trade PS Kip­too told the Star. “If Tan­za­ni­ans have changed their minds then it will be an is­sue for fur­ther dis­cus­sions. In Jan­uary, we will have a de­ci­sion taken, and if it will be a de­lay, if it is go­ing to be vari­able ge­om­e­try, we may … change the rule in­stead of all of us signing. We re­main with those (will­ing to sign).”

East African Af­fairs PS Betty Maina said Kenya has not re­ceived of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion on the Tan­za­nia’s po­si­tion on the EPA.

“The sum­mit will de­cide on the re­gional po­si­tion. We hope it will make a de­ci­sion that sup­ports the in­ter­ests of all par­ties, and if pos­si­ble have Tan­za­nia sign the deal,” Maina said.

Kenya and Rwanda have al­ready signed the pact, while Uganda has “given in­di­ca­tions it will sign” in Jan­uary. Bu­rundi’s case is com­pli­cated af­ter the EU Par­lia­ment raised a red flag over hu­man rights vi­o­la­tion, af­ter Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza’s won con­tro­ver­sial third-term in of­fice in Au­gust 2015, which sparked civil un­rest.

/ENOS TECHE

Trade PS Chris Kip­too dur­ing a past me­dia brief­ing in Nairobi on Septem­ber 24 last year

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