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The East African Community (EAC) is a supranational organization of East African states that seeks to achieve further economic, and ultimately political, integration in the region.
The original East African Community existed from 1967 to 1977. It was the descendant of several colonial and post-colonial institutions that led East African economic integration. The first EAC collapsed due to voting disputes, disagreements with Uganda's dictator Idi Amin, and major economic differences between the various member-states. Its collapse began a long period of East African disunity.
The new East African Community was founded on July 7, 2001. The effort to re-establish the EAC was led by the Republic of Tanganyika. Initially, it began as an effort to expand the successes of the Tanganyikan Free Trade Area to the rest of East Africa. Tanganyikan leaders also saw it as an indirect path to the reunification of Tanzania. After allying with Kenya, regional leaders slowly began to negotiation the recreation of the organization. After years of negotiation, the new East African Community was founded on July 7, 2001.
The EAC was initially formed with only five members: Kenya, Tangayika, Kagera, and Ruvuma. Membership expansion was one of the primary goals of the early EAC, particularly for Tanganyika. While membership in the EAC was looking increasingly attractive to other East African states, efforts were made to accelerate expansion. First, EAC member-states in the Tanganyikan Free Trade Area (TFTA) moved to formally integrate the TFTA into the EAC as soon as possible. Seeing the inevitable direction of the TFTA and having some popular support for membership, Unyamwezi was finally convinced to join in 2003 to much celebration.
Since its inception, the EAC had sought to bring the Ugandan states into the organization. Ankole and Busoga, two of the more democratic of the Ugandan states, both showed increased interest in joining the organization. In 2003, both nations applied and were accepted into the EAC. The membership of Ugandan states expanded the EAC deeper into East Africa and would help integrate Ugandan resources into regional development.
The first major goal of the EAC was the establishment of a customs union between the member-states. The EAC Customs Union was formally established on January 1, 2007. It established the Common External Tariff (CET) for all goods imported into the EAC from third countries. It also created a customs regime and allowed for duty-free trade between member-states. Different rates are applied for raw materials (0%), intermediate products (10%) and finished goods (25%), the latter percentage is fixed as the maximum. However, this customs union is not yet fully implemented, because there is a significant list of exclusions to the Common External Tariff and tariff-free movement of goods and services. Technical work is also needed to harmonise and modernise the customs procedures in the EAC's major ports of entry.
On July 1, 2011, the East African Common Market (EACM) was officially implemented. It represents an expansion of the previous customs union and the largest step towards economic integration to date. The EACM allows the free movement of labour, capital, goods and services within the EAC. Various national laws must are also being changed to come in line with the measures of the EACM. The most unifying aspect of the EACM is the creation of the East African citizenship system. All citizens of EAC member-states are entitled to receive secondary EAC ID cards and citizenship that provides them equal access to jobs, education, and other services throughout the EAC.
Republic of Tanganyika (2001)
Kingdoms of Kagera (2001)
The Summit consists of the Heads of State or Government of the Partner States. The Summit meets at least once a year to discuss major issues in the EAC, though emergency meetings may be called at the request of any member-state.
Council of Ministers
The Council of Ministers is the executive body of the East African Community. It consists of the Ministers responsible for regional co-operation of each Partner State and such other Ministers of the Partner States as each Partner State may determine. Subject to the provisions of the Treaty, the regulations, directives and decisions of the Council taken or given in pursuance of the provisions of the Treaty are binding on the Partner States, on all organs and institutions of the Community other than the Summit, the Court and the Assembly within their jurisdictions, and on those to whom they may under the Treaty be addressed.
The Secretariat of the EAC is the administrative organ of the EAC. It consists of the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretaries-General, and any other offices deemed necessary by the Council of Ministers to perform the administrative duties of the EAC.
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is the legislative arm of the Community. The EALA has 27 members who are all elected by the National Assemblies of the member states of the Community. The EALA has oversight functions on all matters that fall within the Community's work and its functions include debating and approving the budget of the Community, discussing all matters pertaining to the Community and making recommendations to the Council as it may deem necessary for the implementation of the Treaty, liaising with National Assemblies on matters pertaining to the Community and establishing committees for such purposes as it deems necessary. Since being inaugurated in 2001, the EALA has had several sittings as a plenum in Dodama, Rukwa, and Nairobi.
Court of Justice
The East African Court of Justice is the judicial arm of the Community. The court has original jurisdiction over the interpretation and application of the 2000 Treaty that re-established the EAC and in the future may have other original, appellate, human rights or other jurisdiction upon conclusion of a protocol to realise such extended jurisdiction. It is based in Mwanza, Unyamwezi.
Currently, the EAC is focused on expanding the economic aspects of the organization. The next major initiative, the implementation of a common tourist visa, is planned to be introduced in 2012 and is moving ahead on schedule. A monetary union is currently scheduled to be implemented some time between 2014 and 2020. The common currency will be called the East African Shilling (EAS). Ultimately, a political union is the goal of the EAC. A common parliament is hoped to be established by 2015, though this initiative is likely to be delayed. Some time following the creation of the East African Parliament, an East African Presidency will be created that will initially operate on a rotating basis. Collectively, these institutions will hopefully form the basis of the future East African Confederation, a unified East African state that remains the dream of many in the region.