12 July 2017

East Africa: AG Happy With Ruling on Free Trade Agreement

Kenya has welcomed a ruling by the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) throwing out a bid by a Tanzanian seeking to stop the conclusion of a free trade pact with Europe.

Tanzanian lawyer, Castro Pius Shirima, had filed a case at the Arusha-based EACJ, seeking to block Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan from signing the European Partnership Agreement (EPA).

Mr Shirima had asked the EACJ for orders stopping conclusion of the deal until "risks to the region's agriculture and industrialisation" were addressed by negotiators.

The court last week however declined to grant the orders saying the applicant had failed to establish "an irreparable injury" that he would suffer and that could not be compensated.

Attorney-General Githu Muigai said the decision underlined Kenya's sovereign right to engage in trade diplomacy.

"The court has affirmed Kenya's sovereign right to negotiate international trade deals on the basis of its own strategic national interests," said Prof Muigai.

The applicant had argued that some East African Community (EAC) partner states had acted individually in signing the EPA, adding that the move was harmful to the bloc's economy.

The trade deal with the European Union gives EAC member states duty- and quota-free access for their goods as long as they meet set health and safety standards. Kenya and Rwanda signed the trade deal in September.

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