South Sudan’s Membership in the EAC should be viewed as the Government’s legally binding commitment to implement business-friendly policies, improve governance and external accountability. EAC rules and regulations impose discipline on domestic policies. These rules support positive policy changes by allowing the Government to implement the policies without bearing full political responsibility as many of the reforms are externally mandated. The private sector and the people of South Sudan should gain from internationally agreed and enforced rules because of increased credibility, predictability and continuity of policies.
Overall, South Sudan may also gain by shared regional administrative capacity. Pooling regional administrative capacities can allow states to develop institutional capabilities they could not manage on their own. As part of the EAC, South Sudan is now part of the East African Court of Justice and work towards a common macroeconomic policy in line with the Monetary Union Protocol. These initiatives can supplement difficult national institutional transformations and may merit assistance from regional and international development institutions.
To summarise, South Sudan’s membership in the regional bloc can strengthen institutional capacity in the country as well as provide a “lock-in” mechanism for policy-making and reform. In this sense, membership in the EAC can become a commitment device for reform particularly relevant for states with weak domestic commitments and institutional capacity.
Furthermore, these processes may contribute positively to the on-going peace processes. Independent assessments provide evidence that EAC Membership can support not only a stronger and diversified economy but also lasting peace in South Sudan. A recent Overseas Development Institute’s research paper entitled: “Exiting the cycle of conflict in South Sudan: Diversifying trade for sustained and inclusive prosperity” places EAC membership as an important ingredient of attaining sustainable peace and development in South Sudan.