The East African Community (EAC) on Tuesday began talks in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, to admit Somalia into the regional economic bloc.
Peter Mathuki, the secretary general of the intergovernmental organization, told journalists that the talks will be the final stage before Somalia can join the EAC.
"We will deliver the report of the negotiations to the council of ministers as well as the summit of the heads of states of the EAC before the end of the year," he said.
The EAC member states include Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Uganda.
On January 25, the EAC sent a team of technical experts to Somalia to verify and assess the preparedness of Somalia to join the regional bloc as the eighth member.
Mohamud Abdirahman Sheikh Farah, Somali minister of Planning, Investment and Economic Development, said that his country is keen to join the EAC because it already enjoys close socioeconomic ties with all members of the trading bloc. "We have also received a positive reception from the heads of state of all the EAC members," Farah said.
Rebecca Miano, cabinet secretary in Kenya's Ministry for EAC, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, and Regional Development, said that the EAC verification team has confirmed that Somalia meets the basic requirements of the EAC Treaty for admission of foreign countries into the economic bloc.
Miano noted that during the negotiations, the EAC will highlight to the Somali delegation, the benefits, obligations, and commitments of partner states under the EAC Treaty which will be the basis for the negotiations in good faith by both teams.