THE COMMISSION FOR EAST AFRICAN COOPERATION (EAC)
The Commission for East African Cooperation (EAC), which comprises Kenya, Uganda andTanzania, was first formed in 1967 as the East African Community. It collapsed in 1977 dueto ideological and political differences. The EAC Secretariat was relaunched in March 1996in Arusha, Tanzania, to promote closer economic cooperation among its members. The new EACseeks to avoid the political overtones and expensive bureaucracy which scuttled itspredecessor. Progress has been achieved as tensions which existed between Presidents Moiand Museveni have abated. Also, the members' commitment to joint proposals anddecision-making helps maintain the EAC's viability.
The Permanent Tripartite Commission for East African Cooperation met in Arusha inAugust 1996 and agreed on unified budget and annual ministerial-level meetings. The memberstates agreed to cooperate in such areas as trade, health, law, science, infrastructureand industry. The EAC's bid to create a single East African market of about 77 millionpeople entails easing travel restrictions, harmonizing tariffs, increasing cooperationamong security forces, improving communications, sharing electrical power and addressingLake Victoria issues. Concrete measures toward integration include freely exchangeablecurrencies, a common East African passport, a common flag and a double taxation accord.
Although its priority is economic integration, the EAC believes it can play a role inenhancing regional stability and has encouraged the membership of Rwanda and Burundi. TheEAC says it wants to cooperate with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa andother regional groupings such as the Southern African Development Community.
In order to raise its profile in Africa and in donor capitals, the EAC sent aministerial delegation in February 1998 to meet with senior government officials andpeople in the private sector in Brussels, Tokyo, Washington and London. The EAC used thisopportunity to explain its development strategy, promote the East African Single Market asan investment area and seek support for regional infrastructural development, which willbe the focus of donors conference to be held later this year in Arusha, Tanzania.
U.S. Government interest in the EAC arises from the Administration's belief thatregional cooperation and integration will prove economically, socially and politicallybeneficial. Through the President's Partnership for Economic Growth and OpportunityInitiative, the United States aims to reward African countries that pursue economic andpolitical reforms. The Initiative's emphasis on trade and investment liberalization,investment in human resources and improved policy management and governance could help theEAC achieve regional development.