In a statement after concluding their negotiations in Brussels at the end of last year, EU said technical and senior officials met to iron out major differences over most favoured nation and export taxes, although much progress was made in other fronts such as rules of origin and dispute settlement.
“Talks on economic and development co-operation and agricultural issues were fruitful, although agricultural subsidies need to be further discussed,” the statement noted. It said other pertinent issues such as institutional provisions will be addressed at inter-session meetings next February, in view of preparing the next negotiation round scheduled for March 2012 in the EAC region.
“The Most Favoured Nation (MFN) clause and export taxes remain issues that will need further discussion. The parties agreed on a roadmap which should lead to the successful conclusion of negotiations by summer 2012,” the statement noted.
The EAC region which includes Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, initialled a framework or interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU in 2007, which was not signed or ratified due to concerns over key provisions seeking trade reciprocity between the two blocs.
The EU represents an important trade partner for the region, with around €3 billion of imports from the EU (mainly oil products, medicines, machinery and mechanical equipment, cars, aircrafts, electrical appliances, etc.) and around €2 billion of exports towards the EU (mainly agro-food products: coffee, tea, fresh cut flowers, fishery products , tobacco, cocoa etc.) in 2010. Kenya, the biggest economy and the only non-Least Developed Country (LDC) in the region, heavily relies on the EU (which represents 31% of its export market) for selling its cut flowers, tea, vegetables and coffee.