TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

EAC-US trade deal fair, says Rwanda Trade Minister Kanimba

Friday, 07 June 2013 Published: | James Karuhanga

Source: The New Times (Rwanda)

Negotiations leading to the Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (Tipa) between the EAC and the United States are reasonable, the Minister of Trade and Industry has said. Francois Kanimba was reacting to Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Uganda which on Tuesday petitioned the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), which is sitting in Kampala, to take a more defined role in negotiations leading to the deal. 

A petition signed by 22 organisations partly decries what it terms as onerous drafting of several provision of the agreement. The petition contests Article 4, the Clause on the Most Favoured Nation (MFN), as lopsided aimed at according US investors favourable treatment. 

“This provision limits EAC governments’ ability to choose which countries they would like to give preferences to when it comes to trade with any third party and recommends that it should be expunged from the agreement,” reads part of the petition. However, Minister Kanimba told The New Times that the objective of Tipa is to increase Trade and Investment volumes between EAC and US. 

“I support the deal as Rwanda has already signed a Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement with USA since December 2011. For us, there is really nothing new. The concern people have about the Most Favored Nation Clause is more sentimental than a real risk,” Kanimba said. “What is more important for the EAC for this agreement is how Tipa will attract high volume of investment of US companies in the region to sustain high growth rates the region has been experiencing in the recent years.”

CSOs are calling on EALA to monitor development and to request for updates on Tipa negotiations from the concerned ministries to ensure transparency and accountability. The CSOs, under the aegis of the Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (Seatini), petitioned EALA Speaker Margaret Zziwa during a sitting in Kampala, Uganda, yesterday. 

Concerns

They are concerned that the negotiations are tilted in favour of the US with the power nation negotiating on the basis of 2012 US Model Bilateral Investment Treaty.    

Seatini Chief Executive Nathan Irumba, maintains that the template is generally tailored to protect the US without addressing their obligations and the rights of the EAC countries. “We need a template that is acceptable to all,” Amb. Irumba said. 

Receiving the petition, the EALA Speaker, Zziwa reiterated there was need for a conducive environment to enable fair competition among investors of the region. The Speaker added that the Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in the Agreement presented a challenge to East Africans terming it out of reach. “We need to address it as a matter of urgency,” Zziwa said. 

On transfers, the petitioners state that the region stands to lose from the negative effect on balance of payments, owing to increased outflows of profits and other investment incomes. “We are further concerned that the process of negotiating the Treaty is undemocratic and haphazard’, the petition states. The US has presented the template on a ‘Take or Leave it’ premise as opposed to roundtable negotiations,” the statement adds.  

The petitioners, among others, call for a more participatory approach that includes all stakeholders among them: CSOs, business community, religious affiliations, academia and farmers.

View related news articles

Kenya, Ethiopia ahead of region in benefits of AGOA treaty

Kenya, Ethiopia ahead of region in benefits of AGOA treaty

Kenya led the East African Community members in its use of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) treaty, scoring 98 per cent. However, it came second to Ghana which recorded 99.1 per cent with Madagascar coming third at 93.7 per cent. According to data contained in the US Trade and Investment with sub-Saharan Africa: Recent Trends and New Developments report,...

26 May, 2020
Report calls for joint marketing of EAC as investment destination and eradication of NTBs

Report calls for joint marketing of EAC as investment destination and eradication of NTBs

A report of the recently concluded high level conference on trade integration notes that there is a downward trend on the profile of the East African Community (EAC) as an attractive investment destination. The report calls for the EAC Partner States to market EAC jointly, further consolidate free trade by eliminating individual State exemption lists, liberalize and allow...

28 September, 2019
East Africa exports to the US hit $1bn in the year to September 2018

East Africa exports to the US hit $1bn in the year to September 2018

Exports from East African countries to the US reached about $1 billion between October 2017 and September 2018, a 17 per cent increase from the same period the previous year. The United States Agency for International Development’s East Africa Trade and Investment Hub said apparel dominated the region’s sales at 84.4 per cent of exports. The Africa Growth and...

31 December, 2018
'Here's why the used clothing trade deserves more attention'

'Here's why the used clothing trade deserves more attention'

While friction over the ban of used clothing exports from the US to East Africa seems to have come to an end, some fundamental issues still remain, according to Shannon Brady and Sheng Lu from the University of Delaware. Their latest research throws up complex economic, social, legal and political factors linked with the trade in second-hand clothes and questions the...

11 December, 2018
Hello, America! USAID, direct flights to increase AGOA exports to US

Hello, America! USAID, direct flights to increase AGOA exports to US

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Hub will from November 2018 to March 2019 provide direct support in the audit and Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certification process. Already, USAID is helping companies in the East African region become more export competitive. WRAP is a minimum standard for social compliance where US textile and...

19 October, 2018
East Africa debate: Suspension of Rwanda’s AGOA benefits – What does it mean? [Video]

East Africa debate: Suspension of Rwanda’s AGOA benefits – What does it mean? [Video]

Barely weeks after the Trump administration partially suspended Rwanda’s benefits to export apparel duty-free to the US under the African Growth and Opportunity Act - AGOA, the government of Rwanda says that it remains committed to supporting any Rwandan trader who still wishes to access the US market. The government also says that it expects minimal effects from the...

22 August, 2018