The United Kingdom wants to enter into a trade pact with the East African Community member countries.
The United Kingdom which is into a one-year transition phase after it left the European Union, is keen on having long-term and sustainable trade ties with the EAC region.
During the one-year transition period set to end on December 31, the UK- EAC trade engagement will be under European Union protocol where most regional countries apply to Everything But Arms treaty.
UK High Commissioner to Rwanda, Jo Lomas, said that they are looking to negotiating a trade deal somewhat similar to EAC’s Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.
“We are looking to have a trade deal with the EAC, along the lines of what was agreed upon by the EU. Ultimately, we would like to be negotiating something more ambitious but we are keen not to disrupt trade,” she said.
She added that, so far, they have commenced consultations with the EAC Secretariat and EAC member states.
“We have started to consult with the EAC secretariat and the EAC states on how to take that forward. The Rwandan Minister for Trade was in London and we had an initial discussion,” she said.
She added that the lack of an EAC-EU binding economic agreement necessitated the negotiation of a new one.
“If there was trade agreement with the EU already in operation, we would transition to one. At the moment, there is none. Our options are either EAC decides to implement it and we transition from that or we come up with a new agreement,” she noted.
The United Kingdom is also negotiating with other blocs and countries, including the EU.
“Now that we have left the EU, we are free to negotiate our own trade agreements. We are now a sovereign state, our own decision-makers and we will be looking for the best trade deal we can get and will be working in the UK interest. We will be negotiating that in the next 11 months. As we are not a member of the EU, we will be taking our own seat in international forums,” she said.