Rwanda has welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Europe and the East African Community (EAC) reached on October 14, 2014.
Speaking during a press conference held this morning at the Ministry of East African Affairs, Emmanuel Hategeka, Rwanda’s Trade and Industry Permanent secretary said the agreement reached in Brussels last week, presents great trading opportunities for Rwandan exporters.
“The EPA was negotiated largely on EAC terms and the result of those efforts is an agreement that will benefit Rwanda and the region at large, because we negotiated as a bloc,” said Hategeka who has been Rwanda’s team leader representing senior government officials on the EAC negotiation team.
The EAC-EU EPA is a trade and development agreement that is concluded between the five EAC partner states and EU member countries.
The main purpose of the agreement is to provide a contractual framework that will guide the cooperation between the two parties in the areas of trade and development.
With the EPAs in place, Rwandan exports (including those from other partner states) will access the European market without being taxed.
EAC negotiators have been engaging Europe since 2007 and with the conclusion of negotiations; the next step will be the final ratification of the agreement by member states, a process which is expected to be completed in the next six months.
Rwanda’s trade with Europe amounted to $570.4million in 2013 but the trade is imbalanced with Rwandan exports to Europe only returning $168.6million last year.
Speaking at the same conference this morning, Gerald Mukubu, the Acting CEO of the Private sector Federation (PSF) said with the EPA, will see Rwanda’s exports increase.
“That’s because of a clause in the EPA which will see Europe helping to develop the competitiveness and capacity of EAC private sector,” said Mukubu.