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Brazil seeks closer ties with East Africa

Brazil has expressed willingness in promoting stronger ties with the East African Community especially in the areas of trade, investments and diplomacy.

Brazil's Ambassador to Tanzania and the East African Community, His Excellency Carlos Alfonso Iglesias Puente, said that the Brazilian business community already has a significant presence in Tanzania and Kenya especially in construction, energy and solid waste management sectors.

Amb. Puente said that Brazil attaches great importance to regional integration initiatives across the globe, adding that his country was keen on strengthening its relations with the EAC and other regional economic communities (RECs) in Africa.

He hailed the EAC as one of the fastest growing RECs in the world and said Brazil and the Southern American Common Market (MERCOSUR) of which Brazil is a member had a lot to learn from the EAC. The envoy said that regional integration processes benefit both small and big economies saying there were parallels noting that this was the case in both MERCOSUR and the EAC.

He disclosed that MERCOSUR was still trying to actualize its Customs Union before venturing into the Common Market, adding that it was a great achievement for the EAC to have put in place a Customs Union and Common Market.

Amb. Puente urged the European Union and North America to allow greater access by developing countries into their agriculture produce markets saying that agriculture is where third world countries excel.

He said that the New Development Bank (formerly BRICS Development Bank) of which Brazil is a shareholder alongside Russia, India, China and South Africa would primarily focus on lending to infrastructure projects in addition to promoting trade. The bank will have a regional office in Johannesburg, South Africa with the headquarters being in Shanghai, China.

Amb. Puente was speaking when he presented his credentials to the EAC Secretary General, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko today at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

In his remarks, Amb. Mfumukeko said that the EAC had close working relationships with other RECs in Africa which are all geared towards promoting the African Union's vision of an African Economic Community.

He informed the Brazilian Ambassador that the EAC had already made a lot of progress in the implementation of the Customs Union and Common Market.

"We are currently implementing the East African Monetary Union Protocol by putting in place the capital markets infrastructure, connecting our Central Banks, undertaking capacity building programmes and setting up the relevant institutions to make the monetary union a reality. We expect to have a single currency by the year 2024," said the Secretary General.

Amb. Mfumukeko further disclosed that the EAC Secretariat would spearhead the drafting of a Constitution for a Confederation which was the model for a Political Federation that had been adopted by the Heads of State Summit.

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