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EAC likely to conclude EPA before deadline: Kenyan official

NAIROBI, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government said on Wednesday it is optimistic that the East Africa Community (EAC) will conclude the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs) with the European Union before the October 1 deadline.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed told a media briefing in Nairobi the regional bloc and the EU are closer than ever before.

"Most of the clauses have been agreed upon and want is remaining is just three sentences relating to export taxes and domestic subsidies to be agreed upon by the EU team," Mohamed said during a news conference on her recent foreign trips.

If the deadline passes before an agreement is reached, Kenya's exports to the EU will attract tariffs.

Kenya is one of the largest exporters of flowers, horticulture and vegetables to the region. She said that the EU negotiating team is waiting for approval from the EU Commissioner of Trade on EAC's position.

The EU are currently on summer break and so conclusion of the talks will have to wait until they return to work.

The EAC held talks in Rwanda in the past month on a common position for the region.

"However, two member states have requested more time so as to discuss with their private sector," she said.

The cabinet secretary said that in order to reap the benefits of the EPA all EAC states must be on board before the agreement is signed.

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