Regional Co-operation

EAC Want Monetary Union Delayed
Initial efforts by the EAC to reach a common position on rolling out a single currency for the region have run into hurdles as Kenya and Uganda argue that the legal requirements of a full transfer of monetary sovereignty to the regional level carry the danger of exposing their countries’ financial sectors to external shocks.

Kenyan financial experts argue that the EAC Secretariat’s demand that the confidentiality clause in the banking sector be lifted, to pave the way for sharing information on financial transactions among partner states, could make commercial banks vulnerable to their competitors, even though lifting the clause is a prerequisite to the negotiations for the Monetary Union that commence some time in 2010.

Policies on Regional Integration
Delegates at a two-day high level regional meeting in Kigali called for the inclusion of regional integration programmes and activities in governments’ national policies. This was one of the recommendations announced at the end of the meeting. The meeting that attracted UN agencies, Ministers of Regional Integration, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the civil society intended to review and articulate modalities of fast-tracking the regional integration.

Also discussed was the challenge of food security, which came as top priority, climate change and insecurity in some of the member countries. The meeting also discussed the need to establish a permanent regional development working group to harmonise transport corridors. The participants also suggested building a comprehensive policy to regulate the regional Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure.

Strategies to Boost Trade Negotiations
Trade experts from several Commonwealth countries have called for fresh approaches to strengthen regional trading groupings and ways of enhancing their capacity to participate in international trade negotiations. The experts, drawn from Commonwealth missions in Brussels, Geneva and London, as well as academics, trade analysts and representatives of other international organisations meeting in Hampshire, London, on March 15-16, 2010, noted that, while regional integration is not a panacea for development, it presents huge opportunities for fighting poverty that need to be pursued carefully and harnessed properly. He was, however, quick to point out that “simply joining a regional trade and integration initiative is no instant panacea”.