EAC-EU Trade Talks: No Deal Yet

Negotiations for a new trade deal between Europe and East Africa have now been referred the Council of Ministers from the two blocs for direction, after technical teams yet again failed to agree on five sticky issues.

European Union

European Union

The Council of Ministers — the top decision-making organ of the European Union (EU) and the East African Community (EAC) — is now expected to give a final word on the long-delayed signing of a preferential economic partnership between the blocs when it meets next month.

Nairobi last week hosted technical teams from the EAC and EU for crunch talks during which the two blocs struck a deal on the Rules of Origin (ROO), the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) and policies on support for their respective domestic agricultural sectors.

Five sticky issues

The parties, however, remained deadlocked on five issues: Export taxes, domestic support and export subsidies, tackling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, human rights and corruption as well as good governance.

“The next EAC-EU ministerial meeting to guide on the way forward on the outstanding issues is expected to be held by mid May 2014 within the EAC,” the Secretariat said in a statement.

The deadlock is a major setback for the EU that had anticipated that the talks would end in time to allow the signing of a final deal on a new Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with East Africa when it hosted African heads of State for a summit in Brussels from April 2-3.

Kenya and other EAC members are currently trading with the EU under an interim preferential deal signed in 2007 following the expiry of a similar programme by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the same year.

– The EastAfrican