Working Papers

A legal and economic assessment of South Sudan’s possible accession to the East African Community

A legal and economic assessment of South Sudan’s possible accession to the East African Community

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22 Feb 2017

Author(s): Nicholas Aris Charalambides

South Sudan applied to join the East African Community (EAC) in 2011, when H.E. General Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President of the Republic of South Sudan signed a note verbale. In August 2013, the EAC Council of Ministers passed a resolution, establishing a High-Level Negotiations Team (HLNT) to carry out the accession negotiations with South Sudan. On 13 March 2014, President Mayardit signed a decree, referenced 12/2014, establishing a High-Level Committee to negotiate the Republic of South Sudan’s accession to the EAC. In April 2016, South Sudan was admitted to the EAC, despite concerns over governance and the fragility of the peace.

The ambit of the EAC is wide-ranging with the partner states aiming to ‘strengthen their economic, social, cultural, political, technological and other ties for their fast balanced and sustainable development by the establishment of an East African Community’. Accordingly, the accession process creates and requires the implementation of common rules and standards that govern a wide range of areas. In the area of economic integration this process imposes the obligation to liberalise markets and ensure non-discrimination in achieving the free movement of goods, services, labour, and capital, while also requiring partner states to create uniform legislation with the purpose of establishing a common legal framework. There is scope in the accession process to adjust the pace of implementation and determine the extent of liberalisation, although this flexibility varies widely.

This study provides an assessment of the regulatory and economic aspects of South Sudan joining the EAC, focusing on the economic acquis communautaire. The collapse of the Unity government and the tragedy of the renewed conflict in the country means that many of the opportunities and challenges from accession identified are, at present, largely academic. But when, as so many so dearly hope, this young nation moves towards peace, the need to realise economic opportunities in the regional markets and from regional integration will be pressing.


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