The East African Community (EAC) Common Market negotiators have failed to agree on unresolved issues from last months’ third round talks in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The EAC Common Market protocol negotiations which resumed early this week in Kampala were expected to reach a consensus on issues raised by Tanzanian negotiators while in Burundi.
But information from the High Level Task Force (HLTF) indicates that negotiators have failed to agree on issues raised by Tanzania about free movement of persons (article 7(5)), the right of establishment and residence and free movement of services.
“We have not made any substantial progress regarding the outstanding issues from the Bujumbura meeting because we need time to make further consultations back at home. At the moment no body is ready to change their mind.”
“We can not put pressure on Tanzania because they have a right to request for more time for further consultations,” Prudence Sebahizi, head of the Rwandan HLTF told The New Times in an interview on Wednesday.
Tanzania does not agree with the other four member sates on the use of national identification documents issued by individual partner states to be used as a basis for identifying citizens of the community to facilitate free movement of the holders.
Tanzania has requested for more time so as to make consultations from stakeholders back home since the right of residence is not provided for in their immigration policy.
“We can not react about Tanzania’s concerns because whatever we do as States has to be provided for in the legal framework within the partner states. We have decided to keep the concern bracketed and we shall come back to it,” Sebahizi said.
Negotiators have also not reached a consensus on the right of establishment and residence of member states nationals that entails the right to freely establish and do business without any restrictions.
The right of residence is supposed to guarantee citizens of the community who are nationals of other partner States the right of residence if they want to carry out business and work in any of the partner states.
Sebahizi said the HLFT on Monday agreed to discuss new issues regarding harmonization of policies but would make further consultations on the unresolved matters.
“We agreed to move forward and tackle new issues because these are critical issues where no one can commit themselves without further consultations. However since we are developing a draft and work is still in progress we shall come back to issues we have not concluded.” he said.
Partner States are expected to agree on implementation of harmonized transport policy, coordinate economic and monetary policies, competition and other common rules when negotiations resume today till Wednesday next week.