The five nations in the East African Community (EAC), the regional intergovernmental organization of the Republics of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Republic of Rwanda and Republic of Burundi, recently implemented new economic rules to boost cross-border employment and trade.
“The new and expanded East African Community is a very good move for the countries involved if they are able to stay united and protect their economies in negotiations with more powerful predatory interests like the Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union, which are often one-sided and appear designed to destroy local industry in favor of cheap European goods. The more African countries expand and diversify their pockets of interests, the more powerful they become in these economic negotiations,” notes Gerald A. LeMelle, executive director of Africa Action, a human rights organization based in Washington, D.C. and focused on the issues of Africa.
According to LeMelle, the group will have more leverage when making international deals. “Negotiating strength is one advantage but there is also the eventual synchronizing of economic systems making them complementary instead competitive. Boosting cross-border employment is critical to improving labor and economic conditions in the regions’ poor communities,” he points out. “Achieving these improvements will be the most important benchmarks for the success of the East African Community.”
The EAC was created in 1999 by the original three partner states – Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Burundi acceded to the EAC Treaty on June 18, 2007 and became full members of EAC effective July 1, 2007.