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Tanzanians commend EAC leaders on EU trade deal signing delay  | Coastweek

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto is seen (from left) together with, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Tanzanian President and Chairman of the East African Community (EAC) John Magufuli, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Zanzibar’s President Ali Mohamed Shein and EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko attend the 17th Extraordinary Summit of head of states of the EAC at State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. XINHUA PHOTO - JOHN BADI

Tanzanians commend EAC leaders on EU trade deal signing delay

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian local industry leaders on Friday commended the East African Community (EAC) leaders for rejecting to sign a trade deal with the European Union before the Oct. 1 deadline.

The Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) and the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) praised President John Magufuli for showing leadership by successfully convincing fellow EAC presidents to reject signing a much-criticized trade agreement.

It would be "foolish" for Tanzania to accept the deal, said the leaders of the two organizations.

The pact, known as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), gives products from EAC member states duty- and quota-free access to the EU as long as they meet health and safety standards.

Kenya and Rwanda signed the agreement earlier this month, putting pressure on Tanzania and other EAC member states of Burundi and Uganda to follow suit.

But President Magufuli on Thursday chaired an EAC heads of state summit in Dar es Salaam and managed to sway all regional leaders to agree to put off the signing of the deal for at least three months to give the countries more time to discuss the possible impacts of the pact on local industries.

Despite Kenya and Rwanda signing the EPA deal, it still needed approval from all members of the EAC bloc to take effect.

"This issue needs further dialogue between the government and private sector so as to come up with the best decision on the way forward," said the CTI director of policy and advocacy, Hussein Kamote.

He hailed Tanzania’s decision to delay signing the deal, saying the country needs to be very cautious before agreeing to the pact.

"Even without EPA, Tanzania enjoys access to European markets through other preferential trade arrangements, such as the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative, in which Tanzanian business people benefit from them," said Kamote.

TPSF executive director, Godfrey Simbeye, expressed his delight at the rejection of the deal, saying it would have spelt doom for the government’s much-taunted industrialization plan.

President Magufuli laid out a strong case against the EPA pact in the EAC summit that was attended by Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame.

"There are so many issues which demanded a correct solution. One of the issues was how our community can protect its industries after allowing access to the import of European goods," said Magufuli.

"Tanzania was very hesitant to sign this agreement because we have embarked on a plan to industrialize our economy ... our industries cannot compete with European industries," Magufuli added.

Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa has also for years been one of the most vocal critics of the EPA deal, saying it was a bad agreement for Tanzania and the entire east African region.



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