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East Africa signs trade treaty

BBC World Service, 30 November 1999, 16:23:16 PAG

The Presidents of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have signed a treaty forming an East African economic union, reviving a regional grouping that collapsed twenty-two years ago.

The treaty aims to create a free trade area in East Africa and to allow freedom of movement between the three countries.

But correspondents point out that the treaty failed to set a timetable for the removal of trade barriers.

And they note that the more controversial details of free trade and coordinated industrial policies have been postponed to a later, unspecified, date.

Diplomats at the signing ceremony in the Tanzanian town of Arusha described the treaty as a declaration of intent. The countries' first attempt at integration ended in the 1970s amid ideological differences.

Burundi and Rwanda have applied to join the new body.