There is overlap of membership among Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in the Eastern and Southern African region to an extent unparalleled anywhere else in the world. This has a bearing on the costs and benefits of integration, and more fundamentally, it has implications for the processes of deeper integration that large parts of the region have embarked on. In addition, membership in more than one CU is technically impossible.
The present paper discusses the implications of overlapping membership and identifies options to solve the problem of multiple memberships. RECs with overlapping membership considered here are the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa
(COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). All four are either already a CU (SACU), in the transition phase to a CU (EAC), or intend to become one in the near future (COMESA, SADC).
The paper also looks into the implications of the overlap for the ongoing negotiations with the European Union (EU) on EPA which shall be concluded by end of 2007. The EPAs are provided for in the Cotonou Agreement which has replaced the former Lomé
Conventions. It is argued here that while the EPAs can serve as an important catalyst in this critical phase of decision- making and can strengthen regional integration processes, EPAs should not ‘straight-jacket’ the future regional integration process in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Pgs. 188, colored tables, graphs, charts and maps.