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Variation in Commitment to Regional Directives: Case of the East African Community Customs Union Protocol

Open Panel

Abstract

Variation in Commitment to Regional Directives: the Case of the East Community Customs Union Protocol (2005-2009) Paul Bagabo Email: pwbagabo@hotmail.com Abstract: The rebirth of the East African Community (EAC) raised great expectations for economic growth in the region. However, closer scrutiny of the implementation of the Customs union protocol shows commitment to collectively agreed directives has been varied and uneven among the partner states. How can this variation be explained? This aspect of the East African Community has received very little scholarly attention. This paper seeks to address this gap using empirical qualitative data on the transposition and implementation of the East African Community Customs Management Act 2004. The protocol for the establishment of the East African Customs Union was signed on March 2nd 2004 . The provisions of the protocol were to be correctly transposed into national legislation by 1 January, 2005, effectively enforced and uniformly applied in the region. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were used to seek the views and opinions of national and regional experts on the transposition and implementation of the Customs Union Management Act 2004. Other relevant documents, reports, newspaper articles and reports of the EAC council were used to validate the views of the experts interviewed. Based on this data on the transposition and implementation of the EAC Customs Management Act among the three East African countries of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, the study attempts to explain variation in commitment to regional directives. The research takes as a starting point, views of International Relations (IR) theories of commitment but looks beyond the theories to argue that internal and external factors which are important in explaining this variation. The evidence shows that whereas we cannot ignore the IR perspectives arising out EU studies, an understanding of the factors that explain variation in commitment to regional directive among developing countries requires a focus on the endogenous as well as external factors. Key words; EAC- Customs Union Management Act, Commitment, New regionalism,