Tanzania decries biased EPA negotiations

The Minister for Industry, Trade and Marketing, Dr Cyril Chami. The Minister for Industry, Trade and Marketing, Dr Cyril Chami.

Dr Chami
Tanzania has asked the European Union Commission to review the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations, which currently seem unfavourable to the economic growth of the East African member states.

At a joint meeting with a Swedish delegation in Dar es Salaam over the weekend, Industry, Trade and Marketing Minister Cyril Chami said: 

"Development co-operation should be an integral part of EPA to ensure that EAC partner states ably adjust to the new challenges and maximally exploit benefits offered under the agreement."
Minister of Trade Eva Bjorling headed the Swedish delegation to Dar es Salaam. Dr Chami argued that though both parties had affirmed their recognition of development needs for the EAC block but some of the items on the agenda have appeared to be depressing to EAC members.

He for instance said the free movement of high quality European goods into the region will definitely kick out of competition raw and semi-processed goods from the EAC member states, further widening the development gap between the two economic blocks.

"There is need for EU to boost manufacturing capacity for EAC member countries to produce high quality goods capable of penetrate the European and other international markets," said Dr Chami.   

The minister observed that strengthened manufacturing capacity in the EAC will enable member countries to address EPA related development issues and promote sustainable growth and eventually reduce poverty.

Currently, out of the original Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) grouping only four governments - Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Zimbabwe - have signed or initiated bilateral interim EPAs while five EAC governments have not yet signed the commitment.

The Swedish Minister said signing of EPA could be an important milestone to bringing about goods from EAC to the international markets, urging Tanzania and other member countries to speed up the process.
Source: The Daily News,www.dailynews.co.tz, reported by Sebastian Mrindoko
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