The Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Community (EAC) Common Market entered into force on 1 July 2010, following ratification by all the five Partner States: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The Protocol was signed by the Heads of States on 20 November 2009, coinciding with the 10th Anniversary celebrations of the revived Community.
The establishment of the East African Community Common Market is in line with the provisions of the EAC Treaty. It provides for “Four Freedoms”, namely the free movement of goods; labour; services; and capital, which will significantly boost trade and investments and make the region more productive and prosperous.
The Common Market represents the second stage of the regional integration process (as defined by the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community), following the Customs Union, which became fully-fledged in January 2010. The Common Market Protocol is a significant step towards the achievement of the next milestones in the integration process namely the Monetary Union and the EAC Political Federation.
A Common Market is however not a new phenomenon for East Africa. The East African region operated one under the former East African Community (1967-1977) which was very successful and only collapsed with the old EAC.
The establishment of the Common Market shall be progressive in accordance with the relevant laws of the Community and those of the Partner States.
There are general provisions in the Protocol that touch on the following: Institutional Framework needed to operationalize the East African Community Common Market; Approximation and Harmonization of Policies, Laws and Systems; Safeguard Measures; Measures to address imbalances; Monitoring and Evaluation; Regulations, Directives and Decisions; Annexes; Amendment of the Protocol; Settlement of Disputes; Entry into Force; and Depository and Registration.
Common Market Annexes
The implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol will be guided by the relevant Annexes which are integral parts of the Protocol. So far, 6 Annexes are in place to guide the implementation of the various Articles of the Protocol. The Annexes are:
- Free Movement of Persons
- Free Movement of Workers
- Right of Establishment
- Right of Residence
- Schedule of Commitments on the Progressive Liberalisation of Services
- Schedule on the Removal of Restrictions on the Free Movement of Capital
STATE OF PLAY
A framework for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol was rolled out in the Partner States in 2012. Based on that framework, two reports on the implementation of the Protocol have been considered by the Council of Ministers, which noted with concern that the implementation of the Protocol was lagging behind schedule.
In an effort to expedite the implementation process, all the Partner States have now established National Implementation Committees following a Council directive to that effect, and the Committees have commenced work in their respective territories.
At the regional level, the Sub Committee on Approximation of Laws finalized review of the laws governing Companies, Insolvency, Partnerships, Business Names Registration, Immigration and Labour and Employment.
The EAC Secretariat also commissioned a consultancy study to conduct an examination and review of existing laws of the Partner States that have a direct bearing and impact on the Common Market. The study has been finalized and is due for consideration by the Sectoral Council on Legal and Judicial Affairs.