South Sudan will tomorrow (April 15, 2016) sign treaties to join the regional bloc after meeting terms, making it the sixth member of the East African Community (EAC).
Presidents Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan and John Magufuli of Tanzania who doubles up as the EAC chairman, are expected to sign the accession treaty in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
This comes after Heads of State from the bloc approved the admission of Africa’s youngest nation that has been marred with civil conflicts, for over two years.
At their 17th Ordinary Summit held on 2nd March 2016 in Arusha, Tanzania, the EAC Heads of State received the report of the Council of Ministers on the negotiations for the admission of the Republic of South Sudan into the Community and decided to admit the Republic of South Sudan as a new member.
“The summit then designated the chairperson, his excellency President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli of the United Republic of Tanzania, to sign the Treaty of Accession with the Republic of South Sudan,” said the EAC Secretariat ahead of the Friday (April 15) ceremony.
The formal acceptance by South Sudan opens up the country for regional trade with other member countries, particularly now that the bloc is pushing for a common market.
The treaty calls the country to open up immediately its borders for the exchange of goods, capital as well as labor.
This could also be the beginning of recovery for South Sudan whose governance has been questioned by EAC and other human right observers across the globe. As a requirement, the country will now have to adhere to set principles including good governance, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice, and democracy.
It is also expected to adopt social and economic policies that are compatible with those of the EAC.
Although the country has been trading with other EAC members, the trade relations have not been smooth.
When South Sudan gained independence in July 9, 2011, many East African traders rushed into the country to cash in on the new market. This, however, did not last long. Foreign traders were maltreated, and harassed in South Sudan, and lives were lost in the unrest.
Many foreign traders threatened to leave the country in the wake of the violence that left many South Sudanese dead and many others displaced. The traders argued that insecurity had increased with some of them being targeted by criminal gangs in the country.
With the formal entry of South Sudan into the bloc, member states firms such as banks, airlines, manufacturers and individual businesses are expected to benefit. It will also allow business to smoothly and easily move human capital and other resources needed to progress businesses as well as the country.
Image credit: AP