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PUBLISHED ON January 13th, 2015

Trade talks to bear fruit, says EAC

The East African Community secretariat is optimistic that negotiations on a free trade area between three trading blocs in Africa will bear fruit.

A statement by EAC Secretary-General Richard Sezibera, said the region had made significant progress in trade talks between the EAC, Comesa and SADC.

“It is my conviction that we are at the tip of a historic agreement that will enable Africa to reclaim her rightful place in the global arena, and lay a solid foundation for a continental free trade area,” said Mr Sezibera.

At their first summit in Uganda in 2008, heads of state and government of the three regional economic communities directed that the trio should establish a free trade area with haste.

FIRST PHASE OF TALKS

A road map and time line for establishing the area were agreed upon, with the first phase of negotiations addressing tariff liberalisation, rules of origin, customs cooperation and customs-related matters, non-tariff barriers, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, trade remedies and dispute settlement.

The second phase focuses on negotiating trade in services and trade-related issues, including intellectual property rights, competition policy and trade development and competitiveness.

The tripartite agreement is set to open up Africa as a market for products from other trading blocs within the continent.

In a recent interview, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Charles Mbogori said the chamber would soon be lobbying to also issue and automate preferential certificates of origin.

“We as the chamber believe that the automation of these important export documents would improve the business environment since Kenyans would easily access the service online, and thus eradicate delays associated with manual procedures,” he said.

Source: Daily Nation

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