Tanzania sues East African community to stop it from finalizing deal with Europe

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Tanzania has filed a civil suit in the East African Court of Justice to stop the remaining members of the East African Community (EAC) Burundi, Ugandan and South Sudan from signing an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the European Union which Rwanda and Kenya have already signed, reports the Daily Nation.

Kenya and Rwanda signed the contentious deal which expires next year in September. Kenya’s thirds of its export market hangs in the balance.

Tanzania’s advocate Castro Pius Shirima, a law lecturer at Iringa University, argues that “signing such an agreement by the second and third respondents (Kenya and Rwanda) has violated the letter and spirit of the EAC Treaty.”

The advocated fled a paper in October 31st that says that the any further signature will allow ratification and regional application of the agreement, which will most likely displace EAC products from the market.

EAC leaders are due to meet in the first month of next year in Arusha, Tanzania to discuss the fate of the EPA deal. The deal guarantees EAC member states quota and duty free access to the EU market.

The regions Presidents met in September following Tanzania’s opposition to the pact, where they agreed to give experts room to consult and review the deal by January meeting.

Kenya has been lobbying for its partners to endorse the deal since 2007 to conclude the deal. The September signing was rushed by the October 1st deadline that the EU parliament had given earlier, with a threat of imposing an approximately 1 million dollar a month tariff cost.

Tanzania has for a long time objected to the deal with the Tanzanian parliament voting unanimously voted to block the country from signing the EPA.

All the six EAC members must sign the EPA for it to be implemented in the region.