European Union (EU) has invited the government to a dialogue over the contentious Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Head of EU Delegation to Tanzania and East African Community (EAC) Roeland van de Geer, speaking at a well attended cocktail party to celebrate Europe Day at the Bunge grounds here on Wednesday, said the delegation is open for talks with the government.
He argued that Tanzania as a sovereign state has all the rights to its opinion on EPA, saying the EU was cordially waiting for the official government’s position on the matter. “What is important is that we have dialogue.
You (Tanzania) have your convictions; we (EU) have our convictions, we are all human beings. Tanzania is a sovereign country and should take its own decisions,” he said, underscoring on the importance of the dialogue.
President John Magufuli, addressing a joint press conference with his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni at the State House in Dar es Salaam recently, said that Tanzania was bold over EPA, arguing that there was no need for rushing to sign.
President Museveni too concurred with his host, insisting that East African countries should first focus on issue of best interest of their countries prior to signing. Four EAC member states, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda are required to sign the treaty to operationalise EPA.
The deadline for the EAC countries to append their signatures on the trade deal was October 1, 2016 and by that time only Kenya and Rwanda had inked it.
At the gathering that drew many lawmakers in the European Parliament, the National Assembly Deputy Speaker, Dr Tulia Ackson, said the parliament role on EPA was to advise the government on how best to deal with the treaty.
“We have the constitutional duty to advise the government on issues of national importance,’’ she said in her speech, adding that the parliament had advised the government on what was in the country’s interest.
“Practically, the parliament hasn’t said no to EPA but there are issues that have been raised and the parliament will want them ironed out before the government makes its decision,” noted the deputy speaker.