Regionalisation has come to attract a lot of attention the world over, more so in recent decades.
Indeed, the process of economic globalisation has advanced remarkably with the groundwork provided by the need for large and swift international transfers of enormous quantities of funds, trade and capital liberalisation in the 1970’s and picking up in the 1990s.
The formation of the regional economic communities is seen as a milestone that should help to increase trade, stimulate economic growth, attract foreign direct investment and enable domestic producers to build up their capacities.
By this and other steps, many regional economic communities and the participating member States have consistently shown their commitment to regional integration in areas ranging from trade and industry to agriculture, infrastructure, investment and the development of their natural and human resources.
With respect to integration in East Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have enjoyed close historical, commercial, industrial, cultural and other ties for many years.
While the first EAC was dissolved in 1977 after only 10 years of existence, the then leaders of the three countries signed in 1993 an Agreement for the Establishment of the Permanent Tripartite Commission for East African Co-operation with full co-operation operations by March 1996.
The vision of the EAC is that of a prosperous, competitive, secure, stable and politically united East Africa The EAC is now a Common Market and also provides for common taxes and common trade laws.
The drive towards achievement of a Monetary Union is already under way with negotiations for the Monetary Union launched in January 2011. We envisage that the Monetary Union Protocol will be in place by March 2012.
Achievement of a Monetary Union will allow for a co-ordinated implementation of monetary policy for the Community with its attendant benefits for both businesses and consumers.
Combined with the implementation of a fully fledged Customs Union and Common Market, the Community can only hope for a better future.
Why invest in the EAC? There are many reasons why we would want to encourage investors to come to the EAC.
First and foremost, the Treaty establishing the East Africa Community seeks to among other things enhance co-operation in investment and industrial development among the Partner States.
Investing in the EAC provide market access to 133.5 million people, an abundant labour force which is also trained, mobile, skilled and enterprising. The EAC has a combined GDP of US$74.5 billion, which is quite big by any standards and an average GDP per capita of $558.
Mr Sirma is the East African Community minister.