The New Times (Kigali)

1 February 2014

East Africa: Rwanda Lauded On EAC Integration

The European Union ambassador to Rwanda has commended the country for spearheading the implementation of regional integration process.

Michael Ryan, made the remarks during a meeting with Senate president Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo at Parliament yesterday.

"The East African Community (EAC) has done a lot in terms of free movement of people and fostering common security," he said.

On reluctance of some countries to fast track the implementation of initiatives, the official said even the European Union faced the same challenges. He said other partners will always come on board with time.

Ambassador Ryan affirmed the European Union commitment to partner with Rwanda in areas of development.

While addressing journalists, the Senate president said they had discussed various issues including infrastructure projects in the country.

"We talked about infrastructure development in the country and the relationship between the European Union and our Senate," Dr Ntawukuriryayo said.

The EU funds the Senate and Chamber of Deputies in research.

The EAC has always drawn experience from the European Union in various sectors like agriculture and the monetary union.

The EAC partner states and the European Union are involved in negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), a framework that will govern future trading activities between the two blocs.

The latest negotiations were held on Thursday in Brussels, Belgium between ministers from the EAC and EU trade experts.

Both parties noted that further discussions on Rules of Origin of goods and agriculture need to be held at the technical and senior officials level to iron out the outstanding issues, according to a statement.

The EAC and EU EPA negotiations have dragged on since 2007, when the talks kicked off, after failure to agree on how development cooperation issues should be addressed to their mutual satisfaction.

The agreements are meant to bring lesser stringent trade terms between the two blocs. They contain market offers made by both the EAC and European Council (EC) to each other.

Thursday's negotiations were attended by Phyllis Kandie, Chair of the EAC Council of Ministers, and the EU delegation was led by the Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, the statement said.

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