South Sudan President Salva Kiir is set to take the position of Chair of the East African Community Regional Intergovernmental organisation. This comes as Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye steps down after the end of his one-year tenure.
South Sudan takes the mantle amid great pressure to show more integration by giving more attention to programme blocs. This new leadership may greatly influence the way in which other states and regional blocs approach trade with member states. This is because the EAC has yet to effectively implement the Monetary Union programme, which covers trade policies, investment incentives, and product standards for the community affecting trade policies and procedures among the member states. The new chair is expected to address such issues and implement policies that promote the community as a single investment area.
The South Sudan President has focused on peace and security development throughout the young state. This is because the country has been afflicted by conflict since its independence which has evolved to a tribal conflict. The state has, however, managed to be the 7th largest oil producer in Africa.
The EAC remains concerned considering South Sudan’s economic and trade approach and the policies that may be implemented in the regional trade bloc. South Sudan is to address a plethora of issues plaguing the member states, regional diplomacy, trade and implementations.
Among the multiple challenges are:
- Unresolved import ban and denial of market access by Kenya through non-issuance of import permits for powdered milk from Uganda.
- EAC’s slow pace in the domestication and implementation of its own instruments adopted at the regional level.
- Thirteen roadblocks between Nimule and Juba that cost Ugandan traders money.
- Slow implementation of both the Monetary Union and the political federation.
- Non-tariff barriers, where intra-trade has stagnated below 15 percent and the new burden of pacifying the Democratic Republic of Congo.
South Sudan takes the mantle of leadership despite owing $30 million dollars to the EAC. This came shortly after a motion was tabled by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), to suspend any state that has yet to fulfil its financial obligations. This is in line with Article 146 of the East African Community treaty which states: “The Summit may suspend a partner state from taking part in the activities of the community if that state fails to observe and fulfil the fundamental principles and objectives of the treaty including failure to meet financial commitments to the community within a period of 18 months.” The motion is to be presented before the EALA next month during their last sitting of 2023.
Each member state holds debts that warrant suspension under Article 146 of the EAC treaty for their participation in community activities. The outstanding arrears are as follows:
- South Sudan: $30 million
- Democratic Republic of Congo:$14.7 million
- Burundi: $15.5 million
- Tanzania: $123,694 million
- Rwanda: $7.3 million
- Uganda: $6.1 million
- Kenya: $20 million
The change in leadership may lead to a shift in state interests in the foreign arena. Consequently, South Sudan may prioritise advancing the East African Community’s political federation as a key programme. This is because the Political Federation movement has an agenda to build international relations with other states and pursue peace and security within its region. This would benefit South Sudan however, it may leave other member states concerned about the pursuit of trade and economic policies and procedures under the Monetary Union.