Even before independence, overlapping cultural, linguistic, and economic ties, as well as common nationalist sentiments, stimulated a desire for East African federation among Ugandans, Kenyans, and Tanzanians. A declaration of intent, signed in 1963, led to the formation of the East African Community (EAC) in 1967. In 1977 the EAC was dissolved, the victim of Ugandan and Tanzanian fears of Kenyan economic dominance, and, for different reasons, Kenyan and Tanzanian government opposition to Amin. Despite its brief life, the EAC provided Uganda's deepest regional involvement since independence. In the Ten-Point Program, the NRM government bitterly assailed the break-up of the EAC, blaming national leaders in all three countries for their shortsightedness. Nevertheless, the NRM government chose to participate in African organizations that served larger regions, rather than to try to resurrect a union limited to the three East African states.
Given the importance the NRM attached to African cooperation, it was no surprise that its leaders strongly supported initiatives to build closer economic and developmental relations among states in eastern and southern Africa. The Ugandan government set great store by its membership in the Preferential Trade Area (PTA) for East and Southern Africa, which contained sixteen member states in Central, Southern, and East Africa from Djibouti in the northeast to Zimbabwe in the south. The PTA's main purpose was to stimulate regional trade by removing tariffs among its member states and by arranging for direct payment in their own nonconvertible currencies rather than using their reserves of convertible foreign exchange. In December 1987, the Ugandan government hosted the PTA summit of heads of state in Kampala where the decision was taken to eliminate tariffs among members by the year 2000. In his address to the United Nations (UN) in October 1987, Museveni had predicted that the PTA would help to create a single market among member states that could sustain industrial development.
The NRM government joined with five other states--Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Somalia--to form the InterGovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) in January 1986. The organization intended to coordinate projects involving drought, desertification, and agriculture in the region and to interest donors in their implementation. In its first few years, it did little to accomplish this goal. But it did serve as an annual occasion for the heads of member states to meet and discuss pressing political issues.
Uganda also joined the Kagera Basin Organization in 1981. The organization, formed by Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi in 1977, attempted to promote various development projects in the Kagera River Basin but was unable to secure sufficient financing to make much progress toward its objectives.
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