Saturday, January 24, 2009

East Africa passes new law on trade negotiations

East Africa Community member states have passed a new law on trade negotiations, breathing fresh air into the regional integration project that has been wavering in recent months with a deepening of disagreements over terms of engagement.

A statement from the East African Co-operation ministry said the new law passed by the Arusha-based regional Parliament had been endorsed by all members.

The coming into force of the East African Trade Negotiation Act 2008 means that member states have a common stand in future negotiation of trade ties with third parties.

Such concerted effort is deemed critical to strengthening the bargaining power of member countries against influential partners such as the European Union.

“This Act seeks to establish a mechanism for joint negotiations of the partner states in bilateral, regional and multilateral trade and to develop an East African trade regime in accordance with the Treaty and the protocol establishing the East African Community Customs Union,” said the ministry in a statement.

Kenya and other EAC states are currently negotiating a raft of trade deals, including new Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the EU.