East African Community leaders agreed on Friday to explore “variable geometry” in their trade arrangements with the European Union.
“Variable geometry” allows countries committed to specific agreements to do so, while those not ready or have their own doubts to move at their own pace.
In the case of EAC, all countries are agreed to pursuing Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union, but while Kenya and Rwanda have signed the agreements, the other member countries say they are not yet ready to do so.
The decision was announced in a communiqué at the end of the EAC summit at the Munyonyo Resort, on the shores of Lake Victoria, on the edge of the Ugandan capital Kampala.
Leaders also agreed to continue on the path of infrastructure development, as well as seeking to cooperate in areas such as health, in order to together grow Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
EAC leaders endorsed other decisions, such as reform of the Secretariat of the EAC, as well as naming and swearing in Kenyan lawyer Charles Nyachae as a judge of the East African Court of Justice.
Earlier in Uganda, President Kenyatta made a strong pitch for faster movement of goods and services, and called on East Africans to do everything to ensure intra-regional trade boomed.
“We are committed to make the EAC a success. We are committed to integration,” the President said.
In a practical show of how to promote integration, President Kenyatta and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, current chair of the EAC, will on Saturday formally open the One-stop-border post in the town of Busia, along the common border of their countries.
The post will drastically cut the time it takes to process individuals and goods in what is one of the region’s busiest border facilities.
President Kenyatta also held talks with South Sudan President Salva Kiir, during which he was briefed on the current situation in Kenya’s northern neighbour.
President Kenyatta earlier met Tanzanian President John Magufuli. While affirming that they enjoyed good relations, the leaders directed their East African and Foreign Affairs ministers to urgently meet to resolve small but vexing problems between their countries.