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Services Trade under the East African Community Common Market Protocol

Memorandum for the International Trade Center

Clinic: Georgetown University Law Center, Spring 2015

Beneficiary: International Law Center


Executive Summary

Read the full report here.


The East African Community (EAC) is the regional intergovernmental organization of the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Republic of Uganda. The EAC countries established a Customs Union in 2005 and a Common Market in 2010. The next phase of the integration will see the bloc enter into a Monetary Union, with the ultimate goal being that of a Political Federation.


The Protocol on the Establishment of the EAC Common Market provides for “Four Freedoms”, namely the free movement of goods, labor, services, and capital. This paper is primarily focused on the free movement of services, and touches on the other freedoms only insofar as they overlap with the movement of services.


The goal of the study is to highlight potential obstacles in the Protocol that may hamper the successful liberalization of trade in services within the EAC, and to provide recommendations as well as examples of alternative approaches with respect to regulating the progressive liberalization of services within the common market.


A preliminary investigation into the language and structure of the Protocol finds that there are ambiguities that need to be addressed. First, we show that the Protocol’s language leaves room to be interpreted as a negative, rather than positive, list approach. Second, we explain why the lack of a market access provision in the Protocol creates uncertainty regarding the scope of the commitments found in the EAC services schedule.