Talks between the East African Community (EAC) and the European Union (EU) on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) are on course, according to a top EAC official.
Peter Kiguta, the Director General of the EAC Customs and Trade Directorate, was quoted in a statement released by the bloc’s Secretariat, saying that the question of the stalling of EAC-EU EPA negotiations was out of question.
The EAC and EU have failed to agree on EPA negotiations since 2007 when the talks kicked off.
“We are on course and we expect to conclude the negotiations as programmed,” Kiguta affirmed.
The agreements are meant to bring lesser stringent trade terms between the two economic blocs. They contain market access offers made by both the EAC and European Council (EC) to each other.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, John Bosco Kanyangoga, an International Trade Expert, stated that due to the technicality of the agreements, the negotiations will go up to 2012.
“The EU wants us to be faster in negotiations, at least to wind them up by 2011, but on our side, we told them that it’s practically impossible to conclude the talks regarding the remaining work. We agreed to conclude by mid 2012,” he said.
He mentioned that experts from the two blocs are expected to meet mid November to deliberate on the rules of origin, agriculture and economic and development cooperation.
“The negotiations on trade in services and trade-related issues will not form part of the consolidated EPA text as these will be negotiated at a later stage,” he noted.
Kanyangoga added that once concluded, the pacts will be of great importance to the EAC, for instance, in the areas of EAC market access to EU.
Previously, the market access was not on contract basis.
“It wasn’t contractual, which means that any time it can stop, but now, this market access will be contractual; it cannot be stopped just like that,” he added.