Ministry Of East African Community – South Sudan

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Why South Sudan joined? A path to Regional Integration.

Regional and International Integration is indispensable for sustainable social and economic development in the World. Exchange of ideas, technologies, goods, services, inventions is at the very core of economic and social development in the world. Unhindered exchange of these variables moves our societies forward and provides economic growth and social development.

Furthermore, effective participation in international trade represents a powerful avenue to promote economic growth as well as to attain poverty alleviation, social cohesion and stability. Countries that increased their economic integration with the global economy over the past decades have achieved higher economic growth rates, better schooling and longer life expectancy.[1] Regional Integration is a key supporting pillar of these processes. Solving regional and global problems such as – for example – terrorism, global warming or poverty falls outside of the realm of individual countries, and their Governments. A coordinated approach to these intractable problems is necessary and this requires international rules and institutions.

Creating larger markets based on economic freedom and effective common political institutions to deal with issues that concern all members and beyond is therefore critical.

For the Republic of South Sudan regional and international co-operation is, also, of key importance. This is because:

  • As a land-locked country, the country’s access to the sea and window to the world is through Eastern and/or Northern Africa.
  • As a small economy, the country needs to enlarge the market for its goods and services.
  • As the world’s youngest country, exchange of technologies, ideas, trade and services is critical for the process of developmental and catch-up with the rest of the World.
  • An alternative to the integration with the global economy is economic nationalism and political isolation that proved incapable of bringing economic and social development around the world.

As a result, the 1st of October, 2016 is an important date for South Sudan. This is the date that the country joined the East African Community and started its regional integration journey. So, why South Sudan made considerable efforts to joined this regional bloc? Well, arguably, for the same reasons that over the past four decades there was a global rise in the number of Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs). In 1960, there were just twenty (20) such agreements and in 2020 there are more than two hundred and fifty (250) RTAs. This trend is even more prominent on the African continent. In fact, each sub-Saharan African country is – on average – a member of more than two (2) RTAs. At this point it is important to add that, the EAC, in addition to regional economic integration, has extensive cooperation programmes in areas of security, political matters, regional infrastructure, education, health etc. The regional block has developed a large number of regional integration programs that South Sudan and other members benefit from but are also legally bound to implement. This fact is both a challenge and an opportunity.

[1] World Bank (2002) “Globalization, Growth and Poverty: Building an Inclusive World Economy” available at