BRITAIN has assured the East African Community (EAC) that it will continue supporting and cooperating with the regional grouping despite its withdrawal from the European Union (EU) and the European Atomic Energy Community.
Newly appointed British High Commissioner to Tanzania and the EAC Mr David Concar told EAC Secretary General, Liberat Mfumukeko that his appointment was an expression of the British government’s faith in the EAC Integration Project.
He lauded the bloc for creating a sense of mutual confidence and stability among members states of the East African region.
The good news comes as some EAC partner states like Burundi and Tanzania had peaceful elections while Uganda is also heading for the same.
Britain is edging near Brexit from the European Union (EU) later this year. Mr Concar commended the EAC Secretariat for the good work that has led to the attainment of several achievements and promised his country’s commitment to continue supporting the integration process.
The British envoy believes the bloc has an important role to play in promoting economic development and lifting East Africans out of poverty.
Ambassador Mfumukeko hailed the strong relations existing between the EAC and Britain and commended the latter’s support to the EAC integration process.
He shared the progress made by the EAC in the four pillars of integration; namely the Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union and Political Federation.
He added that the EAC had made great strides in the four pillars due to the political goodwill of its leaders and the support from the UK through TradeMark East Africa as well as other development partners.
In his paper, in the Journal of African Trade, the Acting Director of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Office for Eastern Africa, Mr Andrew Mold, said that Brexit does indeed potentially present a challenge for East Africa – but not necessarily in the way that is commonly thought.
“It is not going to lead to a sudden collapse in trading or investment links. Indeed, on this score, there is some reason for a more positive outcome,” he said.
He said that Brexit may still represent a serious challenge to the onward march of regional integration processes.
For the EAC, the message is particularly poignant – the EAC is arguably one of the most advanced regional economic communities in Africa - and also one of the most ambitious.
Implicitly, if not explicitly, the EU has been an important role model for the EAC.
The EAC had until December 31 to negotiate a deal that would guarantee all member countries tariff and quota free access to the UK market, similar to the current agreement with the EU.