The Star | 9 September 2016
Divided EAC pushes EU agreement to January
By WEITERE MWITA
Kenya will have to lobby for its own duty-free market access to Europe to shield its exports to the European Union from taxes.
This is after Tanzania and Burundi’s refusal to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement at the Heads of State Summit in Dar es Salaam yesterday, dealing a blow to the pact whose deadline is October 1.
Uganda, which had indicated willingness, also failed to sign the deal at the summit. Consequently the East Africa Community presidents pushed the EPA talks to January.
The move leaves Kenya with no other option rather than to lobby for its own quota-free market.
Kenya and Rwanda signed the deal in Brussels, Belgium, last week on Thursday but it cannot be ratified by the EU commission without signatures from all the EAC member states.
Deputy President William Ruto represented Kenya at the summit attended by president John Magufuli (Tanzania) Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame,which was meant to convince Tanzania and Burundi to sign the EPA.
Burundi sent a representative - minister for external relations and international cooperation Alain Aime Nyamitwe, to the 17th extra-ordinary summit.
“Tanzania has reneged arguing that it was analysing it (EPA)while Burundi is furious after European countries slapped an aid embargo on the country following its disputed elections and violence that followed it,” a communiqué from the Deputy President Press Service said.
It said the East Africa Community will write to the EU not to punish Kenya by imposing taxes on its goods. “The deadline given by the EU was October 1, which cannot be met,” it said.
“This will negatively affect prospective trade arrangements with other countries,” Ruto said.
Kenya and Rwanda can, however, seek to implement the agreement under the EAC common market “Principle of Variable Geometry”. It is provides flexibility in the process of implementing projects and programme in the integration process.