EAC and Rest of the World

The East African Community (EAC) Partner States are pursing two main trade integration processes concurrently. The first one is trade integration within EAC where Partner States are implementing the EAC Common Market while consolidating the achievements of the Customs Union which commenced in 2005 through operationalization of a Single Custom Territory (SCT) . The Single Customs Territory that started on 1st January 2014 aimed at achieving free circulation of goods and reduction of the cost of doing business in the region. The EAC Common Market which was launched in July 2010 aimed at consolidating the achievements of the Customs Union on free movement of goods by bringing on board other freedoms and rights which are; free movement of persons, labour, services, capital and right of establishment and right of residence. Furthermore in November 2013, EAC Heads of State signed the Protocol for Establishment of the East African Monetary Union which aimed at strengthening economic cooperation through the establishment of a Single Currency within ten years after entry into force of the Protocol.

Another form of integration is trade integration between the EAC Partner States and the third parties. This type of integration has necessitated EAC Partner States to engage in various negotiations with third parties as a bloc. Already after a long period of negotiations EAC and EU concluded Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The EAC as bloc has also concluded negotiations with COMESA and SADC in the context of operationalizing a COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area. In addition, the EAC and the US are currently negotiating the Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement.

Meanwhile, EAC Secretariat has received requests from various parties such as the European Free Trade Area (EFTA); the Gulf Cooperation Council, Turkey, China and Singapore all expressing their intent to negotiate and FTA Agreement with the EAC. The EAC Partner States consider trade and investment agreements as important instruments for deepening the trade and investment relationship among themselves and third parties.