11 November 2017

East Africa: EU Woos East Africa Bloc to Sign Trade Agreement

An official from the European Union has asked the East African Community to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement, saying it will not necessarily affect the region's industrialisation drive.

Commissioner for international co-operation and development Neven Mimica said the EU will continue negotiations so that all member states can endorse the EPA which "will open European markets to East Africans."

The region is divided on the EPA which needs approval from all member states. Kenya and Rwanda signed the deal last year.

In September, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni led trade ministers from the region to the EU headquarters in Brussels in an effort to reach a regional consensus.

In March, Kenya accused Tanzania and Uganda of insincerity in their refusal to sign the EPA. President John Magufuli had in February described it as a form of colonialism at a joint press conference with President Museveni at State House in Dar es Salaam.

"We have discussed the EPA for a long time but it seems like another form of colonialism... it is bad for our country," said President Magufuli.

He said that after studying the EPA, he had realised that African countries would not benefit from it economically as its architects touted.

President Museveni warned African countries that EPAs might break up their unity. "It is better if the signing is shelved until further consultations are made," he said.

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