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New law for EAC trade deals

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 23 – East African Community (EAC) partner States can now negotiate as a bloc in all matters relating to regional and multinational trade following the enactment of the East African Trade Negotiations Act, 2008.

 The Act has provisions for the development and adoption of a common trade regime and cooperation in matters of trade policy while allowing member States to establish national trade negotiations committees to prepare national positions on issues of negotiations at the regional or multilateral level.

“The Act seeks to facilitate the promotion of regional and international trade for sustainable development of the members and establish a mechanism for joint negotiations in bilateral, regional and multilateral trade,” a statement from the EAC Ministry said.

 It will also aim to develop an East African Trade regime in accordance with the Treaty and the Protocol establishing the EAC Customs Union.

At the same time, the partners have enacted the EAC Supplementary Appropriation Act, 2007, to guide allocation of supplementary appropriation out of the region’s budget to the service of the financial year ending June 30, 2007.

Both Acts have been assented to by the Heads of States of EAC Partner States.

An East African Joint Trade Commission will be set up to harmonise trade policies, develop an East African Trade Regime and conduct trade negotiations on behalf of the partner States.

The commission will also be charged with harmonising negotiating positions for individual countries in instances where other members are not present.

“It will also be conducting research and studies to produce strategic papers, maintenance of databank on trade matters and performing such other functions in accordance with the laws of the community,” the statement further stated.

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Decisions of the commission on matters of policy, the parties have agreed would be by consensus. And where consensus cannot be obtained, the matters would be immediately referred to the Council. The commission has been given the leeway to establish its own rules of procedure for the conduct of its business.

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