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|Monday, January 15, 2001, updated at 10:44(GMT+8)|
East African States to Begin Drafting Customs Union ProtocolThe Council of Ministers of the East African Community (EAC) will begin drafting the customs union protocol to speed up the entry point of the community, the council's chairman, Nicholas Biwott, announced on Sunday.
The customs union is expected to come into force within four years after the official launching of the regional bloc scheduled on Monday in Tanzania's northern town of Arusha, according to the EAC program of action.
Biwott said in a statement issued by the EAC secretariat based in Arusha that the drafting of the customs union protocol would incorporate the findings and recommendations of the high level task force on the implementation of the EAC treaty, which was signed in November 1999 by heads of state of the its member countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The first EAC Council of Ministers, which was inaugurated on Friday by Tanzania's Vice-President Omar Ali Juma ahead of the heads of state summit scheduled on Monday, also directed the secretariat of the community to facilitate the development of an EAC competition policy and law.
Biwott, who is Kenya's Minister of Tourism, Industries and Trade, said that the provision would "cover all economic sectors to ensure, protect and promote free competition in the region."
The EAC Council of Ministers, which is the policy organ of the community, also resolved that a strong, independent and autonomous regional authority be established to implement the competition policy and law, he added.
The forerunner of EAC collapsed in 1977 mainly because of divergent political and economic thinking of the partner states.
The new EAC is set to build a common market of 80 million people and, eventually, a political federation..
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