EAC guidelines for joint trade negotiations with global partners in the offing
The East African Community has drafted a negotiation framework to guide its trade negotiations with third parties, including the US, the European Union and China, which are some of its main trade partners.
The proposed policy is awaiting validation by the five member states.
“The draft has been circulated and is now undergoing national consultations before we can have a harmonised framework... hopefully by end of the year,” James Kiiru, an official in Kenya’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Trade economic and international trade directorate, said on Tuesday.
The region has previously struggled to attain a common position while negotiating for trade pacts with other blocs.
The economic partnership agreement for quota and duty free access to the EU, for example, missed the September 2014 deadline, only to be hurriedly signed a month later. It is yet to be ratified.
“The process of pushing a policy through EAC is that you have to subject it to national consultations and then merge the views of the five member states. After this, you have to seek approval from the various stakeholders within the various structures of the EAC,” Kiiru explained.
He was speaking in Nairobi during a meeting organised by Institute of Economic Affairs to examine the impact of Africa Growth Opportunity Act that enabled duty free access to the US market.
The AGOA pact does not comply with World Trade Organisation’s framework for Free Trade Agreements and has been relying on a 10-year conditional special exemption window which expires in September.
Kiiru said Kenya will use its position as host nation for WTO’s Ministerial Conference between December 15 and 18 to also push for another 10 years of a waiver on AGOA which was renewed for another 10 years by US’s Congress on June 11.