The Citizen | Isolation of Tanzania In The East African Community Bloc – What Are The Issues?

Posted October 31, 2013 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Business ~ 5,404 views


EAC flags

The potential and actual roles of various types and levels of regional integration in economic development are well-acknowledged across the globe. Tanzania is a member of some regional groupings, the major of which are the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Cooperation (Sadc). Mainly in the second half of 2013, there have been feelings that Tanzania was being isolated by the ‘coalition of the willing’ that is made up of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda in different EAC projects. This article discusses selected issues in the isolation and possible economic implications for Tanzania.

On the isolation

To understand whether the isolation will have economic implications for Tanzania, it is important to understand possible causes and the nature of the isolation. Broadly and reading between the lines, one gets the impression that Tanzania was being isolated because of a number of issues. These include its arguably slow speed, dragging of the feet, not committing to attend meetings, land as an integration issue, Tanzania’s contribution of military personnel to fight the M23 rebels in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Obama visit to Tanzania and the sour Rwanda-Tanzania relationship. Contrary to the “coalition of the willing”, Tanzania is seen as the ‘unwilling partner’. Since these are allegations, in-depth research in each of these would add much value.

Is the isolation justified?

Naturally, Tanzania has its version of the story on the isolation. Whereas the “coalition of the willing” sees Tanzania as an ‘unwilling partner’, the country sees itself as moving cautiously, slowly, but surely. It does not see the need to unnecessarily fast-track some stages of the integration process, including the Monetary Union and Political Federation. Whereas the need is to be careful, one may correctly request for big and fast results now in the integration process.

Whereas the fast-tracking of some integration processes may be understood, it is not accepted if it is not people-centred and if the core, preliminary and basic prerequisites are not in place.

Key drivers of integration and its eventual fast-tracking should be the people and not the leaders. Fast-tracking is also unaccepted if it contravenes the EAC Treaty and various protocols. However, whereas it is important to prepare for further and deeper integration, it is important for Partner States, including Tanzania to understand that there is no time in which all Partners will be 100 per cent ready to move ahead. Very fortunately, integration is a process not an event.

General implications

There is no doubt that the isolation will affect the current and possibly the future state of regional integration in the EAC bloc and beyond. Further integration will most likely be delayed. Reports have it that several crucial meetings for further integration have been postponed or cancelled altogether. They include meetings on the Monetary Union, Political Federation, Legal Matters and Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The implications are that the planned milestones for various key integration stages may not be reached on time.

Economic implications

Since the potential and actual benefits of regional cooperation are well acknowledged, if the isolation slows or ‘kills’ the current and future integration in EAC, there will be a number of negative economic implications. Depending on the level of regional integration, Partner States and more importantly their people, stand to benefit from the removal of tariffs for goods and services produced within the bloc.

They also stand to benefit from potential regional market which, inter alia, attract market-seeking Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). Partly due to the huge regional market and partly due to common external tariffs, market-seeking FDIs find it more efficient to enter regional blocs through investments rather than through at-arm’s length strategies like exporting or franchising. These investments in turn, have many direct and indirect potential benefits to host countries. The regional integration, especially the common market stage that the EAC has reached, allows free movements of labour, capital and people. All these are potentially good for well and strategically positioned economies. Therefore, if Tanzania becomes isolated from the EAC, it may lose these potential benefits.

The way forward

It is important to consider that Tanzania, as is the case for the other EAC Partner States, has invested heavily over the years in the EAC integration. It has incurred a colossal amount of taxpayers’ money in the EAC. It would be very unfortunate for this poor country to let go and kiss goodbye all these investment costs. Therefore, it should not seek ‘divorce’ from the EAC, but find ways in which normalcy can be brought back noting, however, that no deal can be better than a bad deal.

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.



    All well said in this article

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