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