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Kingi to lead Kenyan delegation to Kampala meeting

Kenyan Broadcasting Company

Kingi to lead Kenyan delegation to Kampala meeting

By Emmanuel Kola

15 October 2008

The Minister for East African Community, Amason Jeffah Kingi, is scheduled to lead the Kenyan delegation to the 18th meeting of the East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers Meeting slated for October 15-23, 2008 in Kampala, Uganda.

Two other meetings with the potential to significantly alter the region’s trade regimes - tripartite Summit of COMESA-EAC-SADC and the 7th extra-ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of States - will also be taking place with the former happening on October 22, 2008 and the latter on October 23, 2008.

The EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite Summit of Heads of State will bring together 26 Heads of State from Member States that constitute the combined membership of EAC, COMESA and SADC trading blocs.

Among others, the Tripartite Summit of Heads of State will look at Status of Trade Liberalization in COMESA, EAC and SADC, Status of regional infrastructure and legal and Institutional Arrangements for the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite.

The Extraordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State, scheduled to kick-off immediately after the Tripartite Summit of Heads of State, will examine the proposed report on the integration of the republics of Rwanda and Burundi into the East African Community and the appointment of judges of the East African Court of Justice to replace the president and the principal judge both who will be retiring on November 29, 2008, among others.

The Tripartite framework is an arrangement among the Secretariat of COMESA, EAC and SADC was initiated in 2005 in Kigali, Rwanda.

It was born out of a realization that the issue of overlapping membership in the regional Economic Communities (RECs) posed a real challenge to the integration efforts of the three trading blocs.

The Chief Executives of the Secretariats have met six times, since 2005 and have identified common programmes, shared information on-going integration programmes and have agreed on areas of co-operation and harmonization.

A review of the status of integration of the three blocs reveal that EAC is already a Customs Union and four of its members are in COMESA and one in SADC.

Five SADC Member States are members of a Customs Union under SACU. Some 10 countries in the region are already members of Customs Unions while at the same time all the 10 are also involved in negotiations aimed at establishing alternative Customs Unions with the seven member states who are not part of Customs Union in both COMESA and SADC.

What this means is that a total of 17 of the 26 members of the three RECs are either already in a Customs Union arrangement and participating in negotiating an alternative customs union to the one they belong to or are in the process of negotiating two separate customs unions.

It is these discrepancies that have led to calls for member States of COMESA, EAC and SADC to make a choice on which REC they want to belong to and not be a member of more than one REC.