The European Union (EU) has been negotiating a free trade agreement with the member countries of the East African Community (EAC) since 2016. The agreement, known as the EAC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), is aimed at promoting trade and investment between the EU and EAC countries.
The EAC is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The region has a combined population of over 177 million people and a GDP of around $200 billion. The EU is the EAC`s largest trading partner, accounting for around 30% of the region`s total trade.
The negotiations for the EAC-EU EPA have been ongoing for several years, with the two sides trying to agree on issues such as market access for goods and services, investment protection, and intellectual property rights. The negotiations were concluded in 2019, and the agreement is currently awaiting ratification by both sides.
The EAC-EU EPA is expected to bring many benefits to both regions. For the EU, the agreement will provide increased access to the EAC`s growing consumer market, which is expected to double by 2050. EU companies will also be able to bid for public procurement contracts in the EAC. The agreement will also help to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction in the EAC by creating jobs and boosting economic growth.
For the EAC, the agreement will provide increased access to the EU`s market, which is the largest in the world. It will also help to promote regional integration and diversify the EAC`s exports. The agreement will also provide support for the EAC`s efforts to improve trade-related infrastructure, such as roads, ports, and telecommunications networks.
In conclusion, the EAC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement is an important milestone in the economic relations between the EU and the East African Community. The agreement is expected to bring many benefits to both regions, and it is hoped that it will be ratified soon so that the benefits can be realized.