Determinants Of A Successful Free Trade Regime Within The East African Community
Oggawa, George O.
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Free Trade is a concept where goods, services and labour and capital inputs are allowed across national borders without duty being levied on them. Free Trade is considered successful when all tariffs are totally removed between nations. For a long time, countries have practiced concessionary trading arrangements either bilaterally (e.g. under WTO) or through regional economic blocs. Many such trading arrangements and economic blocs currently exist in the world. But none of them has reached a situation where there is total removal of restrictions across their borders. This ideal is everyone’s desire. In East Africa, the history of a number of attempts at economic integration is well documented. It has always been hoped that with economic integration of the three partner states (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania), free trade regime would be successfully realized. But history again reminds us that most of these attempts failed on their tracks. The collapse of East African Community in 1977 was devastating. Some writers said that this was inevitable given the foundations on which it was established. However, a desire to re-incarnate it bore fruit with the launch of the EAC in 2001 yet again. The Treaty establishing the EAC envisaged a customs union (effected in 2005), followed by a common market (by 2010), then a monetary union and subsequently political federation. But the path to these levels of economic integration has been full of hiccups and suspicion among member states leading pessimists to conclude that these latest attempts at free trade regime will similarly fail. This study therefore sought to establish what really determines the successful realization of a free trading regime in EA. Previous works on EAC have only dealt with the causes and impacts of the 1977 collapse, and other peripheral aspects of the community. Chapter One therefore introduces the topic of free trade, elaborates the macro and micro environment, and outlines the statement of the problem and objectives and importance of this study. Previous and related works as well as the theoretical framework have been tackled under literature review section (Chapter Two), and Chapter Three deals with the research methodology. Data was collected from secondary sources and by use of interview guide. The research findings and discussions have been enumerated in Chapter Four. Content analysis method and descriptive statistics were employed to analyse the data. Chapter Five therefore gives the researcher’s conclusions and recommendations. The researcher has been able to establish two sets of variables that determine success of free trade regime in EA, viz. Key Determinants; and Minor Determinants. The former are those that at least 50% of respondents felt were crucial to a ‘greater’ extent, whereas minor determinants are those with ‘moderate’ or ‘minimal’ influence. It is the hope of the researcher that the EAC policy makers and implementers will consider the findings of this research and put them into use. Economic union is achievable in EA in the medium term, but a political federation should only follow after a longer period of maturation of the economic union (say, a generation). It is also hoped that these findings will endear East Africans to each other for the success and eternity of a truly East African Union. God Bless EAC!