Writes Leo Odera Omolo

INFORMATION emerging fro the Northern Tanzanian city of Arusha says the East African Community announced last week that it was ready to resume negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreement {EPAs} with European Commission and conclude the deal within one year.

The latest development comes in the wake of the failure by the EAC countries to organize a joint EAC-EC-EPA Ministerial meeting to reach an agreement by the end of September.

The EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers on Trade, Industry, Finance, and Investment {SCTIF}, further adopted a draft road map for the negotiation, according to a statement from the EAC secretariat {details of the road map were, however, not released}.

Trade Ministers from the five member countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi converged in Arusha two weeks ago where they signed the report of the Sectoral Council to raise the funds within the scope of time given.

The Council further directed the EAC Secretariat to convene an experts meeting in January 2011 to prepare a budget ahead of the comprehensive EPA negotiations.

Following the June impasse, the Council again directed the secretariats ensure that it develops the draft into the full a comprehensive negotiations road map to be shared with the EC. The road map should clearly indicate the member countries priorities respectively.

Experts say. a duration of one year compares with the previous four months thru November. It is enough time to enable member countries to meet their dues in readiness for the signing.

Kenya’s Permanent Secretary to the East African Community Affairs Ministry David Nalo was last week quoted by the EASTAFRICA as saying “his decision now opens anew era of serious engagement. It is estimated that this will require about one year from now.”

It is a race to raise required funds, the secretariat says it had mobilized usd.3.4 million from the Swedish international Development Agency to facilitate the comprehensive negotiations for a period ending June 2012, with first disbursement to be made by this month.

He SIDA funding has four main inputs, namely, capacity building for defining ,Trade negotiations, Meeting and Sessions,Technical and sensitization and public awareness on EPA


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