Tanzania has yet again refused to endorse a regional trade pact with the European Union, saying the deal stood in its way to industrialization. This stand, however, threatens to split the bloc as Kenya and Rwanda that have already signed the deal see other partner states as reading from a different scrip. Last weekend, President Museveni met his counterpart John Pombe Magufuli where they talked about the possibility of ratifying the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).
These are trade agreements that the European Union is negotiating with blocs in Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) – majorly former colonies. Once signed, the EPAs would lead to up to 82 per cent opening of the East African markets to European goods tariff-free in a span of 25 years.
The EU argues this would be reciprocal as it would also take in EAC products tariff-free. The deal would also compel the partner states not to impose export taxes on key raw materials, a move seen by analysts as likely to stall the region’s quest to industrialize.
President Magufuli reportedly told Museveni that Tanzania will not sign until outstanding issues have been addressed. In statement on Sunday, Kampala said “the two leaders urged experts in their respective governments to continue studying the matter and advise the principals who are also consulting further”.
On February 2, Museveni met Magufuli in Addis Ababa at the AU summit where they agreed to meet later this month and chart the way forward. In Addis Ababa, Museveni said he was “more worried about the unity of East Africa”.