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East Africa investors call for speedy conclusion of EAC-EU trade talks

By Xinhua | July 20th 2016

East African Business Council (EABC), a regional business lobby on Tuesday called for the speedy conclusion of the ongoing East African Community (EAC)-European Union (EU) trade talks.

EABC Executive Director Lillian Awinja told Xinhua here that the delay in signing the agreement is causing anxiety among the EAC business community.

"We are concerned that if the agreement is not reached before the Oct. 1 deadline, Kenyan exports into the EU will begin to pay import duty," Awinja said during the Financial Services Sector Forum that took place as part of the UNCTAD 14.

If an agreement is not reached, Kenyan goods will be subjected to import duty in order to access the EU market while goods and services from the other EAC member states will still access the EU duty free because they are considered Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Awinja noted that lack of a trade deal will not only affect Kenyan goods because Kenyan exporters currently have working arrangements with the companies in the other EACs nation in order to meet quantity requirements.

She noted that some of the EAC member states are reluctant to sign the EU-EAC trade deal because they will not get additional benefits from the agreement.

"We therefore need to bring on the table, the contentious issues and renegotiate as soon as possible in the spirit of the EAC," Awinja said.

She added that some of the EAC states will take about two years to graduate into becoming developing countries and will soon be in the same situation as Kenya.

Awinja said that it will be beneficial if all the EAC partner states signed a trade agreement as a bloc because it will portray the region as a single working customs union.

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