PUBLISHED ON July 24th, 2014


Source: The Citizen
The European Union (EU) and East African Community (EAC) talks on the Economic Partnership Agreement (Epa) are on course and soon the two sides will reach consensus, the EU head of delegation in the country, Ambassador Filberto Sebregondi, has said.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Citizen ahead of the commemoration of the EU Week, which starts today, Ambassador Sebregondi said the talks were approaching the end and that the two sides were expecting positive results.

He said the agreement will be signed soon. However, the envoy said the process has taken long due to various reasons including misinformation on the matter.

“I agree that the process has taken too long, we started these negotiations in 2007, so it is almost 7 years, but as we speak, we are quite close to signing the deal,” he said.

He added that there has been misinformation on the Epa issue and that some people in the region think once it is approved, East Africa would be flooded with European cheap products. “The process will be protected by tariffs, so there will be fair competition between the two sides; what I can say is that Epa will boost both sides,” said the envoy.

Earlier last year, the EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera, told reporters in Arusha that negotiations for Epa were progressing and hailed them as the first in history that EAC partner states were negotiating terms of reciprocal trade arrangement with Europe as a bloc.

On media performance and press freedom, the ambassador said there was a lot of reporting analysis on various issues which enable wananchi to understand what is happening.

He said the media was doing an excellent job for which it must be commended. “Amid the process of forming the new Constitution, the media has been doing an excellent job of reporting and analysing various issues related to the process and other issues in the country; the media is playing a big role of inclusiveness and openness,” he said.

On press freedom, the EU head of delegation which advocates for media freedom and the right to information, among others, said the EU is concerned with the treatment of journalists in the country and that President Jakaya Kikwete has already promised to push for a media Bill that is more friendly towards the end of this year. “We had concerns on the killing of journalist Daudi Mwangosi, kidnapping, attacks and torture of some journalists in the country. We also expressed our concern on the closing and fining of some newspapers,” said the diplomat.

He said the government was responsible for creating a good environment that would enable freedom of expression in the country. However, he said journalists and media practitioners were also responsible for working professionally and adhering to the laws of the land.

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