The East African Legislative Assembly Committee on Communications, Trade and Investment is meeting in Bujumbura to review the East African Community Customs Management Act 2004, to facilitate and ease the cost of doing trade/business in the community.
During the meeting the Director General of customs and trade at the East African Community Bagamuhunda Kenneth hailed the lifting of the sanctions against Burundi by the European Union early this year.
“Now with Burundi involved in negotiating an EPA and concluding the EPA process that treats East Africa in the same way, in the same manner without any discrimination,” said Director General of customs and trade.
The European Union lifted sanctions against Burundi last month after almost seven year, accusing the authority of Human Rights violations during the 2015 political crisis.
“Now that the European Union has lifted sanctions I think the government will look at the EPA differently they will have a space of negotiation of talking again with the European Union and to see how the government can join other member states to ratify the agreement,” said Leontine Nzeyimana, East African Legislative Assembly member from Burundi.
According to Director General of customs and trade at the East African Community Bagamuhunda Kenneth, the East African Community achieved a milestone towards the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union after the sanctions were lifted.
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are trade and development agreements negotiated between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific partners engaged in regional economic integration processes.
The EU-EAC EPA covers trade in goods and fisheries as well as development cooperation that aims to reinforce cooperation on the sustainable use of resources. Further negotiations are ongoing to include services and trade-related rules
Customs Management Act Review
The East African Community law makers are reviewing a law that is expected to ease the implementation of a Customs Union which came into force in 2004. The pillars of a Customs Union include application of a common customs law, Elimination of Internal Tariff.
“There are so many provisions of the act that have been overtaken by the events so what we are doing here is to make sure we bring it into speed with the challenges the community is u undergoing currently but also with the changes that has happened in terms of technology, in terms of volume of goods and quality of integration,” said George Odongo EALA member from Uganda.
“Despite the existence of the customs management act not very many countries within the East African Community have fully implemented this particular act and protocols something that is required of them because they are party to all the protocols and they are party to all acts that are currently in existence,” said Aden Abdikadir EALA member from Kenya.
The objective of the review of the Act is to harmonise the provisions of the Act with the improved customs operational procedures adopted by the Community, and seeks to provide some of measures that the Council may approve to remedy adverse effects on a Partner State, including waiving duty on some imported and sensitive goods.