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The Framework on Economic Partnership Agreement (FEPA) was initialled in Kampala by the East African Community (EAC) Partner States and the European Union (EU) on 27 November 2007. The Parties acknowledged that the EAC is a Customs Union and would therefore engage in the EPA process as one entity and that it could conclude the EPA as a separate Configuration. They therefore agreed
to conclude the EAC-EU EPA text. However, the Ministers and Commissioner noted that within the very short time remaining until the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement trade regime on 31 December 2007, it would not be possible to conclude a comprehensive EPA that fully addresses the aspirations of the Parties. They therefore resolved to work towards a Framework Agreement as a stepping stone towards a comprehensive and full EPA.
The framework agreement would be applied provisionally from 1 January 2008 until such a time when a comprehensive and full EPA is negotiated and signed by both parties. In this respect, the Parties would put in place necessary regulations and procedures, including the adoption of transitional arrangement by the EC in order to avoid any disruption in the flow of trade between the Parties. The Ministers and
Commissioner reaffirmed their commitment to conclude a comprehensive EPA as a tool for among others, development, promotion and consolidation of regional integration of the EAC into the global economy.
There is news that the EU has recently proposed to EAC member states that the FEPA be signed the soonest, particularly in early April 2009. However, TRADEXA notes that a number of issues in the initialled EPA document remain unresolved hence skewed in favour of the EU. Of these, the paper focuses on Articles 16 (on MFN) and 37 (on Trade Related Issues). To be mutually beneficial and hence sustainable, these issues should get an adequate redress before the FEPA becomes legally binding.
This paper was prepared and presented for Civil Society Organisation in Trade Coalition (CSOTC) in the workshop titled “Involving Members of the Parliament Committee on Industry and Trade” Diamond Jubilee, Wednesday 8 April 2009.
©2009 by Charles Domician. All rights reserved. Sections of this document can be quoted without explicit permission from source, only that reference to author is requested. Any views expressed in this paper are entirely the author’s, and should in no way be associated to any other institution whatsoever.