KAMPALA - Experts from the five East African Community (EAC) countries have this week resumed negotiations here aimed at establishing the East African Common Market by January 2010.
Edith Mwanje, permanent secretary at Uganda’s Ministry of EAC Affairs, told reporters here on Tuesday that experts from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi are working on the annexes of the Draft Common Market Protocol.
“Annexes to the protocol are the agreed upon procedures that will operationalize the principles of the East African Common Market,” she said.
The East African heads of state in April this year postponed the signing of the protocol to November because the relevant annexes had not yet been agreed upon by member states.
Some of the issues the states had not agreed on include trading of services, free movement of people and acquisition of land.
Mwanje said this round of negotiations is expected to be the final after a series of them.
“This round of meetings in Kampala is hopefully the last or close of the negotiations to complete the East African Common Market Protocol before November 2009,” she said.
She said if states still fail to agree, more meetings will be convened so that they reach a consensus before November, the scheduled signing of the protocol.
The outcomes of the eight-day experts meeting that started on Monday will be forwarded to the permanent secretaries for review and then the ministers who will then forward them to the heads of states for approval.
If approved, the protocol is expected to come into force on January 1, 2010. The formation of a Common Market is the second step in the region’s integration process before a monetary union and eventually a political federation.
The region has already installed a Customs Union which came into force in January 2005.