Admission of DRC to East African bloc enters final stages

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi.

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi. PHOTO | LUDOVIC MARIN | AFP

The admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the East African Community (EAC) has moved closer as the negotiations on its admissibility got to a critical stage on tariffs and taxes.

The technical team from all sectors of EAC ministries are converged in Nairobi to iron out the tariff and taxes issues, a major step in admitting the DRC to the common market.

The team will be giving its report on the outcome of the meeting to the council of ministers in the next 10 days for consideration.

EAC has a common external tariff (CET) that is levied on goods from outside of the region’s common market.

The ministers will have the final say regarding what would have been discussed on various issues that include, taxes, tariffs, infrastructure and energy, with the decision on admission to EAC expected to be made by regional presidents.

EAC Cabinet secretary Adan Mohamed said the report of the technical team would be ready in the next 10 days and will form a basis for its admission.

“This is a very important meeting that will play a critical role in the admission of DRC to the EAC,” he said.

Mr Mohamed said DRC at the moment uses the Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports and that bringing it onboard would eliminate the need for tariffs and ensure a smooth flow of goods.

He said the council of ministers and the secretariat have taken steps in expediting the process of admitting the DRC to the region.

DRC Vice Prime Minister Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen’Apala said he is optimistic that the negotiations would agree on most of the things, especially on tariffs.

“This is a very critical meeting and we expect that at the end of the day we shall reach an agreement that will make it easy for us to join EAC,” he said.

Regional presidents gave consent in December for the conclusion of negotiations that will see the DRC finally join the EAC.

At the extraordinary EAC Heads of State summit, held virtually and chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the leaders received and considered the report by the Council of Ministers on a verification mission to Kinshasa.

The verification was launched by DRC President Felix Tshisekedi on June 25, 2021, in Goma. The team visited Kinshasa between June 26 and July 5.

The objective of the verification was to establish DRC’s level of conformity with the criteria for admission of foreign states per Article 3 (2) of the treaty for the establishment of the EAC.

DRC has the potential to open the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic trade corridor and link the region to North Africa, Central Africa and other continental sub-regions.

The development of infrastructure in DRC will facilitate connectivity through the Trans-African Highway development, like the road from Mombasa-Nairobi-Kampala-Kisangani-Bangui-Yaoundé-Lagos.