12 February 2012

East Africa: Mkapa to Address High Level Meeting On EPA Negotiations

Arusha — FORMER President, Benjamin Mkapa is expected to preside over special meeting to discuss how the East African Community could benefit from the two, trade-oriented International Organizations.

Set to take place here for four consecutive days, the event, to be held at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge in Meru District, will also be attended by the EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera and Permanent Secretaries in the Ministries responsible for Trade matters and EAC affairs, from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.

A communique from the EAC Secretariat in Arusha stated that the purpose of the four-day meeting, was to discuss how the region may benefit from interaction between the 'World Trade Organization (WTO)' and the 'Economic Partnership Agreement' (EPA) negotiations.

"And ensure that the engagement of the EAC Partner States in trade negotiations both at the WTO level and in the EPAs is coordinated in order to ensure that maximum benefits accrue to the EAC region from both processes," said the statement.

Economic Partnership Agreements are a scheme to create a free trade area (FTA) between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).

Communications officer at the EAC Secretariat here, Mr Richard Owora Othieno, said the EPA and WTO discussions would also be attended by representatives from the African, Caribbean, Pacific Group of States Secretariat and Partner States' envoys accredited to Brussels and Geneva.

Other delegates include, Members of National Parliaments, Members of the East African Legislative Assembly's Committee on Trade and Investment; as well as delegates from the private sector and the civil society from the five EAC member states. The Chief Guest at the meeting, Mr Benjamin William Mkapa, who is also the Chairman of the South Centre, will delivered a keynote address on the Role of Multilateral and Bilateral Trade Agreements in Fostering Trade and Development in Africa.

Other presentations to be tabled at the meet include those on the comparisons and synergies of the EAC Partner States' Commitments at the WTO and proposals in the EPA, regarding Non-Agricultural as well as Agriculture and Fisheries' Market access.

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