By John Oyuke
The treaty that comes into force today, sets the stage for free movement of persons, labour, services and the right of establishment and residence across the five partner States â Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
It also marks the entry of the critical phase, when the EAC partner States, must begin to determine how free movement and establishment of companies and businesses should be effected.
Negotiations for the Common Market â a merger or a union of two or more territories to form one common territory in which there is free movement of goods, labour, services and capital â commenced in February 2008, and were successfully concluded in September last year, when the Multi Sectoral Council of Ministers adopted the Draft EAC Common Market Protocol.
Today, the Protocol is put into force by the respective partner States.
The treaty is the beginning of decisive steps by the EAC Council of Ministers, in determining what regional-based interventions should be undertaken to speed up the process of integration mainly through a legislations.
Leaders have, however, cautioned that although East Africa has ushered in the new regime, full implementation will be a gradual and could take as long as five years.
EAC Secretary General, Juma Mwapachu, said although the conversion of the region into a single market begins today, the ride is likely to be complex and long.
He said unlike the Customs Union, which had a âbig bangâ start with the Common External Tariff and zero rating of Customs duty in respect of intra-regional trade, effecting the Common Market, was complex.
"Indeed, the process itself is complex in terms of what is required to be undertaken at the levels of the Partner States and, in certain respects, at the level of the EAC itself," Mwapachu added.