NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 21 – The East African Community (EAC) has reached a common position on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which it intends to sign with the European Union.
The agreement was reached following a two-day Ministerial meeting held in Arusha on Friday and Saturday, according to Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed.
“Following last (Saturday) night’s meeting, we were able to agree and all of us were able to sign on to the economic partnership draft,” she told a news conference at her office on Sunday.
She said the EAC might be the last economic bloc to reach consensus but it was well worth the wait.
“SADC has signed and ECOWAS has signed so we’re the last ones to it but it’s also safe to say that we probably got a very good deal,” she revealed, and cautioned that Kenyan exporters might still pay the price of the delay should the EU October 1 deadline for adoption of the EPA not be met.
“We may still have to face a situation where maybe for one or two months where we may have to meet a higher degree of taxation than we would normally have attracted,” she said.
The ministry’s Principal Secretary Karanja Kibichio assured that the taxes would be refunded once the EPA was entered into.
“The EU has a firm promise that if these EPAs are initialised before October 1 then they will refund all the export taxes that will have been paid,” he said.
The road to the ratification of the agreement going forward, he added, should not encounter any major hurdles given the, “lobbying,” done before the deal penned.
“It’s just a matter of wording now,” Amina said, “but it’s not something we’re willing to die for.”
The EU had cautioned that if an agreement was not reached by October 1, Kenyan exporters would face higher taxation following the lapse of the preceding preferential trade agreement.