Rwanda and Kenya have today signed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) while other East African Community member states are still delaying the deal over the Brexit.
“Today: Rwanda & Kenya sign economic partnership agreement with the European Union in Brussels. RwandaTrade,” Rwanda’s Ministry of Trade and Industry posted Thursday on Twitter account.
“Kenya & Rwanda, who signed the EPA with the EU this morning, are the first @jumuiya partner states to sign,”Rwanda’s Ambassador to Belgium Olivier Nduhungirehe also posted earlier on his Twitter account.
The signing comes just two days after Amb. Michael Ryan, the head of European Union Delegation to Rwanda commended Rwanda’s commitment to sign the EPA.
“I am very much encouraged by the approach of Rwanda. The approach of Trade Minister Francois Kanimba is very much in favour of the EPA and we would see no EAC country lose the ratification of the EPA with EU,” , Amb. Ryan told journalists on Tuesday after his visit to Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa at the Parliament buildings in Kigali.
The EPA signing was expected on July 18 but new deadline was set on September 30 because the EAC states are divided on whether the deal will benefit the infant local manufactures or will see the European giant investors dominate the EAC market.
Tanzania and Uganda explicitly decided to delay the signing because of the Britain’s vote (Brexit) to leave the EU bloc in the referendum of June 23. Burundi has not yet come out clearly on its position while the bloc’s new member, South Sudan was yet to join when the deal was initialed in 2014.
However, Minister Kanimba warned of the possible cracks in the region if the deal is not signed and urged the EAC politicians to consider the region’s collective gains ahead of individual state’s interests and sign the EU-EAC deal, according to The East African.
Though each partner state has to sign the EPA with EU individually, the EAC had undertaken negotiations as a bloc and that, despite today’s signing, will obviously block the EPA if any partner state fails to sign by this month.
The EPA would give EAC traders a duty-and-quota free access to the EU market in exchange with an opening of up to 80% of the EAC’s market to European products.