TOP STORY: EAC Common Market talks reach agreement on key issues

The Kivu talks were the most outstanding. High Level Task Force (HLTF) teams agreed on all issues without any controversies, according to sources The 6th East African Community (EAC) Common Market talks ended Wednesday positively with negotiators reaching a consensus on new issues.
President Kagame with EAC ‘s Juma Mwapachu recently. (File Photo)
President Kagame with EAC ‘s Juma Mwapachu recently. (File Photo)

The Kivu talks were the most outstanding. High Level Task Force (HLTF) teams agreed on all issues without any controversies, according to sources

The 6th East African Community (EAC) Common Market talks ended Wednesday positively with negotiators reaching a consensus on new issues.

Agreement were made  on environmental policy, common social policy, cooperation in statistics, and research and the technological development policy.

The 10-day talks took place at the Kivu Serena Hotel. A total of 120 members of the High Level Task Force (HLTF) teams from the EAC partner states including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda attended the talks.

Prudence Sebahizi, Rwanda’s Chief Negotiator said, “So far, these were the most outstanding talks ever. We agreed on all issues without any controversies.”

He explained that this is partly because the issues were more technical than political, where all members safe guard their interests.

The issues were adopted onto the agenda during the previous negotiations, since the second talks in Nairobi. They were regarded as fundamental to the Common Market protocol.

The issues are to facilitate the free movement of goods, services, labour and people within the region by 2010.

Sebahizi who is also the Executive Secretary of Rwanda’s Regional Integration Committee (RIC) said that HLTF also handled some outstanding issues such as common transport policy and trade in service.

“A consensus was also reached on these issues,” he added.

These issues had stalled from previous negotiations and have been pending since the second round talks in Nairobi, Kenya in August this year.

Other outstanding issues that were not handled include accessing and acquiring of land under the right of establishment, issuing of national identity to facilitate free movement of persons, and approaches for liberalising services.

The HLTF will again meet in January, in Nairobi to continue with the discussions. With three talks scheduled for next year, the technical negotiations are mandated to end by March, 2009.

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