Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), have urged the East African Community (EAC) partner states to prioritise regional integration and development over the removal of trade barriers in relation with Europe.
This was disclosed in a positional paper presented by the committee on communications, trade and investments on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) during the EALA meeting that was just concluded in Kampala-Uganda.
According to the recommendations, it is imperative for the EAC to prioritise regional integration and development ahead of EPA with the European Union (EU).
“This is critical for the EAC economies for industrial upgrading, export, diversification, food security, region-wide employment creation and ultimately for the countries’ peace, stability and security,” the paper reads in part.
According to Dr. James Ndahiro the Chairperson of the Committee at EALA, only when the Common Market has been firmly established and EAC countries have gained more strength, can they consider negotiating the EPAs with EU.
“We call upon the EAC bloc to make sure that they put much emphasis on all those areas that we feel are fundamental to our regional economic growth in its endeavour to industrialise,” said Ndahiro, who represents Rwanda at the EALA.
“We have to create a conducive business environment; so we envisaged the situation whereby such negotiations are not taken seriously, would hamper our development efforts.”
He urged the partner states to negotiate a favourable deal which promotes growth of the regional development.
EPA is currently being negotiated between the European Union and the East Africa Community but the high level of liberalization demanded by EU has slowed the negotiations.