European Union (EU) has no intention to impose sanctions on Tanzania to press the East African nation into ratifying the widely criticised Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Tanzania has categorically rejected the trade deal, requesting for more time after nearly ten years of discussions between the two blocks.
The EU hopes vanished when the Tanzanian Parliament also rejected the proposed pact.
According to EU Head of Delegation to Tanzania, Roeland Van Geer, the trade deal is potential for both EAC and EU markets and that doors remain open for further deliberations as the neighbouring Kenya and Rwanda have already signed the pact. Mr De Geer told reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday that, “Tanzania has the right not to sign the agreement.”
“It’s not about all sections ... if there are areas you are not sure of, do not just sign especially if you feel insecure,” he said, adding that alternatively the government can seek external experts from India, China or America to help in digesting the agreement details.
The envoy said the EU policy on development partnerships is specific, arguing that unless there is human rights violation, the union never imposes international restrictions. Mr De Geer remains optimistic that the failed trade deal has nothing to do with bilateral relationships between Tanzania and EU member states.
“Our support will remain unchanged,” he said, hinting that plans are underway for the union to extend a 200 million Euro (over 460bn/-) support to Tanzania’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals for policy reforms and infrastructure development. EU-Tanzania trade volume remained high last year, at two billion US dollar (over 4trn/-), but the envoy decried the trade imbalance, saying, “We still export more to Tanzania than we import.”
The EU head of delegation said while Tanzania has its own perspective between the EU-EAC trade deal, the agreement is centred more on improving economies, notably Tanzania’s.
While lauding President John Magufuli’s efforts to speed-up economic development, the envoy said the European union remains the best option in Tanzania’s quest for industrial development.
“Tanzania will have to import more machines for industries ... EU will respect any decision from Tanzania although we hope we can dialogue.” He said EPA was designed to help Tanzania add value to her products, refuting claims that under the deal, EU will turn the East African region into a dumping place for cheap products. “Our goal was to stimulate the manufacturing sector...
” Mr De Geer, however, warned against Tanzania’s fast population growth, which he said has a greater impact on the economy and resource allocation.
He said rural community still lacks essential social services-water, electricity and education and that it is high time the population was controlled through dissemination of proper education to the girl child.
Meanwhile, the EU head of delegation challenged the government to strengthen the judicial system to effectively handle corruption and graft cases in the country.
He observed that while the president has been intensifying efforts to combat corruption, “It shouldn’t end at firing officials but building the capacity of the judiciary and other institutions.”