East African Community: Pre-conditions for an Effective Monetary Union
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda signed the Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community (EAC) in 1999, which entered into force in July 2000. In 2007 it was signed by Burundi and Rwanda. According to the Treaty, EAC should first form a customs union, then a common market and a monetary union, and finally a political union. The Customs Union was formally completed in 2010, and Common Market Protocol was signed in 2009. Currently the intention is to sign the East African Monetary Union protocol 2012, while the date for actual implementation of the common currency is uncertain. The purpose of this note is to discuss preconditions for an effective monetary union among the EAC members, with a focus on Rwanda. It first outlines potential economic benefits and costs of a monetary union, and then discusses political and institutional preconditions. It concludes that although there are potentially substantive economic net-benefits, a monetary union is a risky project for political reasons. The political will among policymakers is key to successful implementation, and it could vanish with a change of government or because of discontent among influential lobby groups. However, the process towards forming are monetary union is appears to be highly beneficial the EAC members, both directly by improving monetary policy and indirectly by contributing to economic integration.
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