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23.03.2012 Rwanda


By East African Community (EAC)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, March 23, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Ministerial Session of the EAC Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment concluded today in Arusha, Tanzania by granting a request by Rwanda for an additional six-month duty waiver on sugar imports, among other business.

The Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment which brings together the Ministers responsible for these dockets in the EAC Partner States gave its approval for the extension of the stay of application of the EAC Common External Tariff (CET) on 38,000 metric tonners of sugar to be imported into Rwanda following a report that the country could not take full advantage of a previous EAC allowance to import 50,000 metric tonnes duty free due to logistical issues.

The Sectoral Council directed that sugar exported from Rwanda to other Partner States attracts a CET rate during the six months the waiver is effective, and further directed the Secretariat to develop a strategy on sugar production, supply and distribution after observing that persistent shortage of sugar in the region has continued since 2005, despite the commodity being a sensitive product and attracting a duty rate of 100%.

The Ministers welcomed Turkey's request to negotiate a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the EAC, directing the Secretariat “to respond positively” to Turkey and to undertake a study which will inform the region on the cost and benefits as well as issues to include in the harmonization with other investment and trade agreements/initiatives.

Additionally, the Sectoral Council tasked the EAC Secretariat to develop an EAC Common Trade Policy and Strategy within the next financial year which will form the framework to guide the bloc in its engagement with third parties.

On the COMESA-EAC SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area negotiations, the meeting directed that the Secretariat expeditiously develops an EAC negotiation position on Cluster One and Two of the Tripartite FTA negotiations on Trade in Goods.

The first cluster to be negotiated between April this year and August next year, covers the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers, rules of origin, customs and transit related issues while the second cluster covering technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures will be undertaken over a period spanning nine months between August 2012 and April 2013.

The meeting took note of the study reports on the attainment of the Single Customs Territory in a fully fledged Customs Union and directed the Secretariat to forward the same to Partner States for comments. The Sectoral Council also took note of the report of the Ministerial Meeting on Non Tariff Barriers; progress made on the EAC-EU EPA negotiations; as well as the request to de-gazette Mukwano Group of Companies from the list of Ugandan companies accessing raw materials and industrial inputs duty free.

Kenyan Minister of Trade Hon. Chirau Ali Mwakwere chaired the meeting, which was also attended by Ministers; Hon. Monique Mukaruliza (EAC Affairs, Rwanda); Hon. Hafsa Mossi (EAC Affairs, Burundi); Deputy Ministers; Hon. Peter Munya (EAC, Kenya); Hon. Oburu Odinga (Finance, Kenya); Hon. Lazaro Nyalandu (Trade and Industry, United Republic of Tanzania); Hon. Abdalla Sadalla (EAC, United Republic of Tanzania); and Hon. David Wakikona (Trade, Uganda).

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