Kenya Foreign Affairs Minister Amina Mohammed at the University of Nairobi.
Jul. 12, 2016, 4:00 am
By MARTIN MWITA @mwitamartin, The Star
A fresh diplomatic row is brewing between Kenya and Tanzania over the neighbouring country’s reluctance to sign a trade deal with the European Union.
Tanzania last week said it will not sign the Economic Partnership Agreement between the East African Community and the EU. It says it needs to monitor developments following Britain’s successful June 23 referendum vote to leave the EU.
The signing of the EPA by the EAC was set for July 18 ahead of its ratification deadline by the European Commission on October 1, 2016.
Kenya has accused Tanzania of “intentionally” blocking her by refusing to sign the EPA. Tanzania Foreign Affairs PS Aziz Mlima said the government will not sign the deal aimed at giving East African states, as a bloc, duty-free and quota-free market access into the EU.
“Tanzania wants to capitalise on its access as a least developed country to increase its market share against Kenya,” a ministry official privy to the negotiation process told the Star.
If Tanzania backs out, it will jeopardise the process for the second time after a similar move in 2014. Kenyan exports to the EU will attract duty of between five per cent and 22 per cent, like it happened in 2014 when Kenya was placed under the General System Preference trade regime for three months.
Read Related Story Here: Dump EPAs in Favor of Intra-African Trade
As a result, the country’s private sector suffered losses estimated to be Sh600 million per month before successfully lobbying to be reinstated to duty-free status.
About 87 per cent of Kenya’s exports – in agriculture and manufacturing industries – to the EU valued at Sh98 billion were affected, according to a document issued by the EAC ministry ahead of the EAC meeting on the EPA. “The other EAC countries continue accessing the EU market under Everything But Arms initiative since they are categorised as Least Developed Countries,” the document adds.
The report shows Tanzania ignored an EAC secretariat meeting on July 5 to deliberate on the preparation for the signing of the pact, despite President John Magufuli being the EAC chairman.
Foreign affairs CS Amina Mohammed is expected to lead a team to Dar-es-Salaam today to try and convince Tanzania to take part in the signing. Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi are willing to take part in the deal. Source: The Star