Task forces have requested for more time to handle more crucial issues to the common market protocol that have not been negotiated. Some of these include; institutional reforms, environmental matters, and social policy
The regional multi-sectoral council is meeting in Tanzania today to decide on unresolved outstanding issues on the ongoing East African Community (EAC) Common Market negotiations.
The council comprising of permanent secretaries, relevant to the common market protocol is seeking a solution to issues such as 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.
These issues have been pending since the second round talks in Nairobi, Kenya in August this year. Having missed out in the first round talks in Kigali in April this year, Tanzania’s comments were accommodated in the second round talks, which forced the High Level Task Force (HLTF) to postpone outstanding issues to the third round talks.
However in the third and fourth round talks held in Bujumbura and Kampala respectively, the HLTF failed to reach consensus on these outstanding issues.
Prudence Sebahizi, Rwanda’s Chief Negotiator said, the permanent secretaries’ meeting will also discuss a draft report from all the talks.
Sebahizi who is also the Executive Secretary of Rwanda’s Regional Integration Committee (RIC) said that if unresolved, the outstanding issues may well be referred to the ministerial council.
He said that members of HLTF have also requested for more time to handle more crucial issues to the common market protocol that have not been negotiated. Some of these include; institutional reforms, environmental matters, and social policy.
“Therefore the permanent secretaries’ meeting will offer guidance to their negotiations, if granted more time,” Sebahizi further added.
The meeting comes when HLTF members are working around the clock to finalise the negotiations by December 31, 2008. But a draft report reveals that no substantial progress has been made regarding outstanding issues.
For example, some member states have objected the inclusion of land in the common market protocol. Other partner states have also maintained their stand with reservations on the use of national identification documents as a basis for identifying citizens of the community to facilitate free movement of the holders.
Sebahizi is optimistic that deliberations from the permanent secretaries’ meeting may help to lessen pressure on the HLTF members. The current talks in Zanzibar have only considered new areas which include approximation of laws and the commercial policy.