Disagreements mar EAC protocol talks

ARUSHA- As the last negotiations on the EAC Common Market Protocol continue in Kampala, controversies still surround some outstanding issues, The Sunday Times can reveal.

ARUSHA- As the last negotiations on the EAC Common Market Protocol continue in Kampala, controversies still surround some outstanding issues, The Sunday Times can reveal.

The Kampala meeting, which is the 14th and last round of the negotiations, was convened to consider outstanding issues like permanent residence and protection of cross-border investments in the region.

A source taking part in the meeting told The Sunday Times yesterday that the most contentious issue at hand is permanent residence, which has pitted some partner states against others.  

“Currently it is Rwanda and Burundi supporting the issue of permanent residence other partner states are still adamant.

Other countries up to now prefer that that the issue be governed by national laws of partner states,” the source who preferred anonymity revealed.

The meeting is also considering the annexes on the free movement of persons, removing restrictions on the free movement of workers, the right of residence, and the annex on the right of establishment. 

It was also reported that one of the partner states, Tanzania, is still holding its ground on the annex on the free movement of persons, with a view that issuance of passes should not be free of charge.  

“Like you are aware, to get a Visa in our region now, our people do not need to pay for it, but Tanzania thinks that it should not be free of charge.

They said they are going to consult again on this,” the source added.

By press time yesterday, different sub-committees were yet to present their discussions on the annexes to the High Level Task Force (HTLF).  

Unconfirmed reports indicated yesterday that among issues that seemed uncontested were; annexes on harmonisation and mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications, free movement of capital, and the annex on trade in services in the community.

There are high hopes that once the delegates discuss and reach consensus on all the outstanding issues on the annexes, the outcome of these negotiations would have far-reaching impacts on the lives of the East African people.  

The EAC Common Market Protocol is set to be signed in Arusha in November this year  by the Heads of State of the five partner states.

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