SEATINI Uganda Calls for Effective operationalization of the EAC Consultative Dialogue Framework
Representatives from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Civil Society and Private Sector across the entire East African Community (EAC) region from 20th – 21st July 2022 met in Arusha, Tanzania during the High-level Retreat for the Summit on the EAC Common Market to discuss how to fast-track full implementation of the Common Market Protocol.
The Common Market is one of the four pillars of Regional Integration, which has been in force since 2010, in line with the East African Community (EAC) Treaty provisions. The Protocol implores that, to accelerate EAC economic growth, EAC Partner States must maintain a liberal stance towards; Goods, Services, Capital, Persons, Labour/Workers and the Right of Establishment and Residence.
The operational principles of the EAC Common Market are; Non-discrimination of EAC nationals, Equal treatment to all EAC Partner States, Transparency in matters concerning other Partner States; Freely Sharing information on protocol implementation and High-Level Retreat for the Summit on EAC Common Market.
The High-level retreat for the Summit on EAC Common Market was organized by the EAC Secretariat under the theme; 11 years of realizing the commitments of the EAC Common Market Protocol: A Reflection on the Achievements, Opportunities, Challenges and the journey ahead.
On 21st July 2022, the views and proposals generated by various stakeholders were presented to the EAC Heads of State as they deliberated on the Progress made in the implementation of the EAC Common Market. Subsequently, the Heads of State deliberated on the status of the implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol (CMP) with focus on the progress, achievements and critical challenges to the implementation of the Protocol.
SEATINI Uganda Executive Director, Ms. Jane Nalunga who participated in a Break Away session on Social Integration and movement of persons and workers and the role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in social and regional integration raised the following issues;
- There is need for effective operationalization of the Consultative Dialogue Framework which is the mandated framework for the involvement of the Citizens and other stakeholders. The EAC Consultative Dialogue Framework provides for regular and continuous dialogue between the EAC partner states, CSOs and Private Sector at national and regional level;
- CSOs need information, spaces and resources to effectively engage. CSOs should organize themselves to proactively engage.
- The Ministries of EAC Affairs need resources to mobilise other Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Private Sector, Non-State Actors to participate in the EAC processes;
- Social integration depends and is also the highest level of economic integration, addressing Non-Tariff Barriers, arbitrary border closures will go along way in promoting social integration. Therefore, the issue of a robust deterrent dispute settlement mechanism is critical.
- Harmonization of taxes us crucial for the East African Community.
Hon (Dr.) Peter Mutuku Mathuki, the Secretary General of the EAC noted that intra-EAC trade is still about 15% of total trade-reflecting 85% of EAC trade is with third parties and affected by recurring Non-Tariff Barriers.
While discussing the progress and challenges of the EAC Common Market Protocol during the High-Level retreat on the EAC Common Market Protocol, the President of Uganda, H. E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni emphasized that integrating markets is the best way to survive. He noted that USA for instance is rich and powerful because of its market size.
Other key issues discussed included infrastructure development and interdependence that were identified as top priority. The EAC Heads of State also reaffirmed their commitment to deepening regional integration.
During the summit, President Kenyatta handed over the mantle of the EAC leadership to President Ndayishimiye of Burundi as the new chairperson of the summit of EAC Heads of State.
The Summit culminated into resolutions to spur realization of the Common Market Protocol.