Uganda is now ready to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union. Ugandan Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde said the government was ready to sign the deal, “irrespective of whether all the other regional countries are on board or not. The EU is our major trading bloc and we are going ahead to sign the EPAs.” Amelia was Speaking at the sidelines of the 7th Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives sector review annual conference in Kampala on Tuesday.
“We can’t afford to lose the EU market because it’s contributing a lot to our economy,” added the assistant commissioner, External Trade, Mr Emmanuel Mutahunga while speaking at the conference.
Kenya and Rwanda Trade ministers already signed the EPA pact in Brussels, Belgium on Thursday. With Burundi also willing to sign the agreement in its current form Tanzania remains the only country in the regional trading bloc still seeking reassurance on the terms of the agreement.
Tanzania’s is trying to safeguard the growth of the emerging local industries from stiff competition since signing the agreement would mean that the country gives the EU unrestricted access to it’s market and without guarantees against the side effects, Tanzania says it is not prepared to commit itself into economic enslavement.
The EU is Uganda’s second leading exports markets destination.
He said Uganda coffee exports to the EU are worth $252 million while flowers exports to the region bring in $45 million.
Mr Mutahunga said a conclusive decision on the deal is expected to be discussed at the ongoing negotiations by the regional council of ministers who will make final recommendations to the heads of states next week in Arusha, Tanzania. The EAC states are expected to sign the deal before this month ends.
September 30, 2016 is the deadline set by European Union for the EAC to sign the agreement as a unit/trading bloc