The High Level Task Force (HLTF) that has been negotiating the EAC Common Market Protocol has successfully completed drafting the major components of the instrument.
This was during the 9th round of negotiations that took place in Kampala last week from March 31st to April 4th.
The last round of the negotiations deliberated on the Residence Permit – Article 17(2), Competition and Consumer Welfare, Common Transport Policy, Cooperation in Intellectual Property Rights, Industrialization and Trade in Services and Interpretations.
These had been the outstanding issues from the 8th round of negotiations in Kigali.
Speaking to The New Times from Kampala on Saturday, Prudence Sebahizi’s Rwanda’s chief negotiator on the HLTF said the negotiating team from the five partner states had made tremendous progress and reached consensus on all the technical outstanding issues in the draft protocol.
“We have agreed on all outstanding issues at the technical level. The remaining three main areas were bracketed at ministerial level and these will also be discussed by the forthcoming Ministerial meeting,”
The three main bracketed areas in the draft protocol at ministerial level include the use of national identity cards as an identification document across the five partner states, access to land under the right of establishment and the issue of permanent residence.
“These were brought to the attention of the ministers because they require political decisions. Our work is technical so we did not discuss them,” Sebahizi said.
He added that the only remaining work on the draft protocol was the drafting of the annexes of the document that is expected to allow free movement of goods, people and services in the East African region.