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EAC Model Regional Bloc, Says Hillary Clinton

The US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has praised the East African Community as the most successful regional economic community among the regional trade or cooperation agreements in the Sub-Saharan Africa.

Addressing the 2010 AGOA Forum on US-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation in Washington on 3 August 2010, Hillary Rodham Clinton said, “We can see the benefits of greater regional integration in the progress and potential of the East African Community, which brings together the 127 million people of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi and their combined GDP of $73 billion.”  

The 2005 launch of a customs union, the commencement of a common market last month, and the elimination or reduction of tariffs on goods traded within the Community were some of the EAC achievements the Secretary of State highlighted and said made it easier for workers and companies to do business in any of the EAC countries.  

She noted that Sub-Saharan Africa had some 14 regional trade or cooperation agreements, many of them overlapping and not all as successful as the East African Community.

“Let’s work together to bring coherence to this patchwork.  Let’s promote the institutions that work.  Let’s share best practices.  Let’s be sure that we are maximizing what is closest to home – markets that are only going to get bigger if they are nurtured and given the chance to grow” said  Mrs Clinton.

The Secretary of State disclosed that the United States believes in the potential of regional integration, like the East African Community, and was committed to supporting it. “We signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the Community in 2008 and this spring, we became the first nation to accredit an ambassador to the Community”.  

Mrs Clinton also indicated her country would launch a new technical assistance program later this year and added the USA was working together with EAC Partner States on improving aviation security and infrastructure development, and addressing piracy in the West Indian Ocean.

She also affirmed the importance of ensuring that the benefits of economic integration translated into broad-based prosperity for the people because, ultimately, success must be measured in the results people see in their daily lives.

The 2010 AGOA Forum on US-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation in Washington was attended by among others the Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Juma Mwapachu and the Director General, EAC Customs and Trade Directorate, Mr. Peter Kiguta.