East African Community’s main aim is to make the region a single customs territory. So, the community removes taxes and other trade obstacles in all members to make the region one market. In addition, members agree to charge the same taxes to products coming from outside the member countries.
DR Congo will add 89.5 million of its people to East African Community. This increases the trading bloc’s combined population to about 284.8 million. DR Congo joins Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
A single market is more attractive to investors than small individual national markets. The enlarged market with reduced customs clearance helps trade among members. The community’s customs union creates fairness among the region’s producers by applying same taxes to goods imported outside the bloc.
‘We gain more by working together’
Extra-Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State and Government allowed DR Congo into East African Community on 29 March 2022.
Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, chairman of the summit, told the virtual meeting the bigger community will attract more investments. Also, it will create more wealth and employment for the people, he said.
“Working together, we have more to gain than when we are separate,” Mr Kenyatta said.
He said entry of DR Congo to the community showed the bloc could expand beyond its social and political boundaries. This will expand opportunities for the region’s citizens, the president said.
President Kenyatta said DR Congo would encourage the community to build main transit corridors running from east to west.
“The said infrastructure is crucial in facilitating cross-border movements of goods, people and physical capital as envisaged in the EAC common market,” he said.
‘Historical day for DR Congo’
DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi said he was looking forward to increasing trade within the community and improving relationships with members.
He said he wanted the bloc to create a new body for mining, natural resources, and energy, which will work from Kinshasa, DR Congo.
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni said he had been waiting for 60 years for DR Congo to join the community.
“[DR Congo] has strong historical, social, and cultural links with EAC partner states,” he said. “It is the onus of the EAC to now work on restoring peace and stability in eastern DRC.”
Rwanda President Paul Kagame thanked EAC Council of Ministers and Summit of Heads of State for accelerating DR Congo to join the community.
“I call upon EAC organs and institutions to accelerate the integration of [DR Congo] into the community,” he said. “Rwanda is committed to support the process.”
Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan said DR Congo had a long historical relationship with the community. She hoped DR Congo would sign the agreements to fully integrate its people.
The Summit of the EAC Heads of State and Government authorised President Kenyatta to sign the treaty allowing DR Congo to join the community by 14 April 2022. After that, DR Congo must give approval documents to East African Community secretary general before 29 September 2022.
Reporting with Xinhua.