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The EAC: Regional Engine, African Model

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013

The East African Community (EAC) provides a useful lens through which to examine the prospects for broader regional integration in East Africa. The current EAC is built on a long history of regional cooperation, including a High Commission (1948-1961), a Common Services Organization (1961-1967) and even a previous attempt at an EAC, which was formed in 1967 and managed to build shared institutions before collapsing in 1977 under the weight of trade imbalances and ideological differences. In spite of the collapse, the three founding countries -- Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania -- agreed to explore and identify areas for future cooperation, and an East African Cooperation Commission was established in the early 1990s to coordinate efforts toward renewed regional cooperation.

The EAC subsequently re-emerged as a regional economic community in 1999, and quickly adopted an ambitious regional integration agenda, leapfrogging the traditional starting point of a free trade agreement to move straight to a customs union. Rwanda and Burundi joined Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in 2007, and South Sudan and Somalia have applied to join. ...

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