EAC political confederation well on course

EAC political confederation well on course

THE journey to the envisioned East African Community (EAC) Political Confederation is well on course, the regional authority has assured.

The EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki, who was speaking at a virtual forum to mark his first 100 days in office over the weekend said national consultations for the fourth and ultimate stage in the integration, had already been held in both Uganda and Burundi, signalling a smooth journey to the Political Confederation.

He further revealed that plans were at an advanced stage to hold similar consultations in Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya and South Sudan.

“It is very important to sensitise East Africans on this new way of governance,” he emphasised.

According to recommendations made by the Committee of Experts tasked with drafting a model constitution for the confederation, EAC partner states will largely retain their national sovereignty under the new proposed arrangement.

The Political Federation is the ultimate pillar in the EAC integration process, being preceded by the Customs Union, Common Market and Monetary Union.

In May 2017, the EAC Heads of State summit adopted a political confederation as the transitional model.

Meanwhile, Dr Mathuki has disclosed that he had already held consultations with the members of the Summit of Heads of State to seek their views on how the Community should be run. 

“The Heads of State reiterated that the Community should be steered in the spirit of the EAC Treaty that puts emphasis on a people-centred, market driven and private sector led integration process. These, to accelerate regional growth, create wealth and reduce poverty in the region,” he said.

According to Dr Mathuki, they further emphasised the need to take the EAC integration to the people at the grassroots, as they are the actual owners of the process.

On the Customs Union and Common Market pillars, Dr Mathuki disclosed that the 38th Meeting of the Sectoral Council of Ministers on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI), held in May this year, adopted a four-band Common External Tariff CET structure of zero, 10 and 25 per cent respectively.

The EAC Secretary General further noted that it was anticipated that an agreement on a rate that is above 25 per cent shall be concluded before the end of 2021.

The EAC is a customs union governed by CET. The CET is currently under review, with members considering higher rates of external protection and an increase in the number of tariff bands.

According to Dr Mathuki intra-EAC trade has increased significantly over the past three months and singled out the Namanga border post where he said trade between Kenya and Tanzania had risen six-fold.

He said that intra-EAC trade currently stands at less than 15 per cent compared to 70 per cent within the European Union (EU) and gave an assurance that the Community would try to raise it over the next five years.

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