- Dr Mlima told reporters in Dar es Salaam that Tanzania had decided to halt the signing because of “turmoil” that the EU is experiencing.
- EAC Secretariat workers could not believe that Tanzania had pulled out of a deal which it has participated in negotiations.
DAR ES SALAAM
Tanzania has said it will not sign an economic partnership agreement (EPA) between East Africa Community (EAC) and European Union (EU) following Brexit.
The announcement caused anguish and shock at the EAC headquarters in Arusha.
A number of officials at the Secretariat were apparently at a loss on Friday on learning of the country's U-turn as announced in Dar es Salaam by Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Aziz Mlima.
"Has the Tanzania government withdrawn?" inquired a surprised official who said if it was true, the move would be a setback to the negotiations which have been going on for years between EAC and EU.
On Friday, Dr Mlima told reporters in Dar es Salaam that Tanzania had decided to halt the signing because of “turmoil” that the EU is experiencing following Britain’s exit.
The agreement between the EU and EAC was scheduled to be signed on July 18.
Dr Mlima said signing the pact would risk exposing young EAC countries to harsh economic conditions given the prevailing conditions in Europe.
The official said Tanzania’s Parliament would first peruse and advise the government before committing to the deal.
“Our experts have established that the way it has been crafted, the EPA will not benefit local industries in East Africa. Instead it will lead to their destruction as developed countries are likely to dominate the market,” Dr Mlima said.
Dr Mlima's remarks echoed strong criticism of the pact by former president Mkapa who warned EAC not to rush to sign the pact because it was designed to kill the local manufacturing sector.