East African nations have reached an interim accord with the European Union to replace preferential tariff agreements due to expire this year, Kenya announced Friday, sparking fury from the civil society.
"The much feared disruption of trade... after December 31 has been put to rest," said David Nalo, a top trade ministry official.
"The deal, which is in form of an Interim Framework Agreement on the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreements) covers market access, development and fisheries," said Nalo, who led a Kenyan delegation to Brussels.
Under the accord reached on Wednesday, East African Community (EAC) states Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda will enjoy duty free, quota free access to the EU for all products -- except sugar and rice -- from January 1.
Trade deals giving preferential market access to the African nations have to be replaced by the end of the year because the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has ruled they are illegal.
Update: The government of Ghana would like to keep negotiating with the Europeans to create mutually beneficial economic agreements, the Chief Minister of Finance and Economic Planning told Parliament this week.
In a story in Afriquenligne:
"The extension is deemed necessary to allow for further negotiations of the many outstanding issues including the strengthening of the regional integration process; implementing a region-wide Common External Tariff; harmonizing tax and investment regimes in the sub-region; unresolved issue of market access, and liberalization of services and the absence of support measures through the establishment of an EPA regional funding mechanism."
On development of ECOWAS countries, Mr Baah-Wiredu identified energy as one of the most critical challenges to growth and development.
To this end, ECOWAS, he noted, had been implementing some key energy programmes to ensure sustainable and affordable energy supplies to the sub-region and to mitigate the impact of the current crisis that the area faced.
These include the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP), the West African Power Pool (WAPP) and the ECOWAS Initiative on Access to Energy Services.