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A Counter to Kenyan criticism over Integration process

Discussion in 'Kenyan News and Politics' started by Mbalamwezi, Sep 8, 2008.

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    Mbalamwezi JF-Expert Member

    Sep 8, 2008
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    Dar is still committed to EA integration with care

    2008-09-06 09:36:17
    By Theo Mushi

    In recent times, it has transpired in some economic and political circles that Tanzania was dragging its feet in joining the planned East African Common Market.

    In an authoritative article published in the Daily Nation of 29th August by a prominent journalist and one time editor of the standard Tim Mshindi titled ``As Tanzania dithers, EA integration must roll on``, there is every reason to believe our partners want to go it alone.

    Tom Mshindi says in his article that ``it is regrettable but hardly surprising that Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda must now proceed with the East African integration project without Tanzania``.

    This is hardly surprising because it is still known whose agenda it was to fast-track the formation of East African Federation.

    It had been agreed that after the referendum carried out by Professor Samuel Wangwe, the quest for political federation was agreed to be deferred until 2012.

    Tanzania, which took party in the preparation and signing of the 1999 EAC Treaty, still remains firmly committed to the gradual process of economic and political integration.

    The sequence of the process had been agreed so as to allow formation of the customs union, common market, monetary union and eventually political union in that order.

    This is why Tanzania is a signatory to the East African Customs Protocol signed in 2005 and which is being implemented with the goals of abolishing EAC international tariffs, thus eventually adopting of Common External Tariffs (CET).

    In formulation of annual government budget speeches, the ministries of Finance of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda conducted intensive consultations on CET in case one country wants to propose a charge in external tariffs to protect infant or sensitive industries.

    Tanzania is also a member of East Africa Securities Regulatory Authority (EASRA), whose ultimate goal includes harmonisation of listing regulations for facilitating cross listing.

    It is worth remembering that East African Breweries, Diamond Jubilee Holdings and Kenya Airways have been cross listed on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE).

    Likewise as a member of EA-common market, Tanzania has stated through its budget speech of 2008/9 by the minister of East African Co-operation.

    Hon Diodorus Kamala that it will not go for massive allocation of land to foreigners, including Kenyans, and that the land law and its attendant provisions of 1999 would be followed to the letter.

    As well understood, a common market entails free movement of goods, services, labour and capital.

    It must be realised that Kenya is the largest foreign investor in Tanzania followed by Britain.

    Tanzania has benefited a great deal by expanding its exports to Kenya, this being because of the removal of customs duties to boost cross border trade.

    According to the article by Tom Mshindi, it is noted that ``Tanzanian leaders argue that its people are not ready for envisaged integration because its political and economic structures cannot manage the demands of integration.``

    It is true that there will be elimination of all trade barriers after the creation of the common market, that coming at a time when Tanzania has not yet attained competitiveness edge sufficient enough to benefit fully in export of industrial goods.

    The costs of production was still high due to fuel prices, energy costs and pitiable state of infrastructure, though efforts are being made by the government to address the issue of competitiveness in the regional market.

    The country has the right to weigh the costs and benefits of a common market before it joins it and see if it would make economic sense.

    Tanzania`s main problem is not Kenya`s stronger economy and aggressive streak of its entrepreneurs.

    On balance, Tanzania has made big steps in industrialisation in the past decade as the sector now accounts for 9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and is planned to reach 15 per cent by 2010.

    Local entrepreneurs have participated in all regional trade fairs, including Nairobi and Kampala to reveal their diversified export potential.

    Neither are we scared by Kenyan professionals as a result of free movement of labour because Tanzania`s education, industrial and communication sectors are hiring Kenyan experts where there are no local skills.

    As a long term solution Tanzania is putting a lot of investment in human resources development in all fields.

    SOURCE: Guardian