DRC entry into EAC matrix must wake up South Sudan, says economist

DRC entry into EAC matrix must wake up South Sudan, says economist
Dr. Abraham Maliet Mamer (photo credit: Alex Bullen/City Review)

The entry of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into the East African Community (EAC) could bring sour grapes to South Sudan—the youngest member of the bloc up to the time that Kinshasa came into the picture.

According to Dr. Abraham Maliet Mamer, who is an advisor at the economic cluster under the leadership of Dr. James Wani Igga, DRC’s inclusion is a wake-up call for South Sudan to seal borders and have various protocols in place.

Dr. Maliet told The City Review yesterday that there should be trade protocols on investment, double tax avoidance, and labour.

He said the labour market in South Sudan is being controlled by foreigners instead of the citizens, whom he said are denied employment in the neighbouring countries.

“I think it is a wake-up call for South Sudan since new members are being admitted into the bloc, South Sudan must work to wake up interest.” The interest must be coded through protocols, so we have trade protocols, investment protocols, double taxation avoidance protocols, and labour protocols, “he said.

“If you go now to Uganda and you want to work, you will not get a job, even if it is advertised. The same thing happens in Kenya, but here, they are the ones controlling a huge sector of humanitarian jobs. So, it is a bad time now for us. Whenever we are admitting new members as a nation, we should now try to tighten our internal regulations so that we protect our labour market,’’ he urged.

However, he stated that this would have the advantage of preventing goods from being smuggled into the territories of partner states, which would have to go through the proper trade arrangements and protocols and be taxed.

“One of the main things that I believe is important is that the goods that were being smuggled into territories without going through the proper trade arrangements and trade protocols will now be made available, and they will be taxed,” he noted.

“So, the borders will benefit from the border tax. However, like South Sudan, we need to establish a strong trade and investment protocol with these neighbours. The principle of East Africa, does not negate the fact that sovereign states can have their own protocols to protect each other’s investment.

Investors secured

Dr. Maliet stressed that South Sudan had Chinese investors who could not invest in the DRC because it is controlled by European countries.

He noted that South Sudan might stand at an advantage if investors in the DRC were willing to extend their exploration of minerals to South Sudan, especially in Western Equatoria State.

“Some of them like investing in risky areas so that they can have what is called ‘‘quick return.’’ The minerals in DRC are not free. DRC is controlled by Europeans, and that is why there are no Chinese investors there. It is Europe: Belgium, France, and other European countries that are controlling it, “Dr. Maliet said.

“What I am expecting is because some of the minerals are in a belt-like diamond, copper. Some of it is here in South Sudan. So, one benefit that we can have is that we can strike a deal with investors that are interested in these minerals to extend their exploration to deeper Western Equatoria. “

However, Dr. Maliet noted that the admission of the DRC into the EAC was more politically inspired than economic because the leaders might be trying to curb the harbouring of rebels by partner states.

DRC joins

Last week, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was officially admitted into the East African Community (EAC) by the 19th Summit of the EAC Heads of State.

On Monday, the summit noted in a statement that its chairperson, President Uhuru Kenyatta, would sign the treaty of admission of the DRC into the East African Community on April 14, 2022.

In January 2022, the government of DRC confirmed that they were committed to speeding up the admission of DRC into the EAC.

Christophe Pen’Apala, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of Congo, stated that his country was ready to start the engine of increased trade and investment when admitted.

He pledged his country’s willingness to bolster bilateral relations with partner states to maximize the exploitation of natural and human resources.

 “The DRC was keen on cooperating with the EAC for maximum exploitation of both natural and human resources in the region (and) expressed hope that this would be the last round of negotiations before the DRC is admitted into the EAC,” Pen’Apala said.

“The DRC has a large population of consumers who constitute a large market for the EAC.” The DRC is also in dire need of investors and offers incentives for entrepreneurs who would like to invest in the country.”

DRC is now the seventh and youngest partner state of the East African Community after South Sudan.