TOP STORY: East African states to negotiate modalities for regional market

Kigali will host the first meeting next month Following approval from the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State, the High Level Task Force (HLTF) will negotiate implementation modalities for the regional Common Market Protocol.
The five EAC Heads of State during the First Regional Investment Forum  in Kigali last year.( File photo)
The five EAC Heads of State during the First Regional Investment Forum in Kigali last year.( File photo)

Kigali will host the first meeting next month

Following approval from the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State, the High Level Task Force (HLTF) will negotiate implementation modalities for the regional Common Market Protocol.

Rwanda’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of EAC Affairs, Robert Sali, said that the decision was made during the recently ended Heads of State Summit, after thorough examination by the Ministerial Council as well as that of the Legal and Judicial Affairs.

“The Sectoral Council on Legal and Judicial Affairs made recommendations to the Ministerial Council about the issues, which were examined and forwarded to the Heads of State for consent,” he revealed.

The decision follows Tanzania’s unwavering persistence that the partner states and not the Ministerial Council should conclude regulations or directives and annexes, which are necessary to give full effect to the provisions of the protocol.

It is therefore believed that the decision was part of the solutions for the outstanding issues of the protocol. Others include national identification, the access and use of land, and the issue of permanent residence (article 19), which lays a foundation on the conditions and length of residence of non-citizens among others.

The HLTF is a committee charged with the negotiation of technical areas of the regional common market protocol. Each EAC partner state is represented on the committee.

In an interview, Rwanda’s Chief Negotiator, Prudence Sebahizi, said the regional secretariat has scheduled four meetings to discuss the implementation modalities.

“Details of the meetings haven not been communicated yet, Rwanda has been declared the first host of talks in the first week of June.”

Implementation modalities dubbed, ‘annexes’ in the Common Market Protocol, are guiding principles for free movement of capital, persons, labour, goods and services across the regional economic bloc by 2010.

The communiqué from the Heads of State Summit declared that the (annexes), among others, crucial issues such as common tariff policies, be finalised soonest to enable the signing of the Protocol in November this year.

The Common Market is the second step in the integration process after the Customs Union. The EAC wants to setup a Monetary Union and eventually a Political Federation after the Common Market.

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