Kenya and the European Union have signed a trade agreement. This is a victory for Brussels as it has been seeking a closer link with Africa in spite of stiff competition from China.
The EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement under President Ruto’s administration was concluded yesterday in a ceremony in Nairobi.
Once the agreement is confirmed and implemented, Kenya will get duty-free and quota-free access to the EU, its largest market and the final destination of about one-fifth of all exports. Over a 25-year period, progressive tariff reductions will be applied to some imports into Kenya from the EU; some delicate commodities will be exempt.
‘’Today is a very proud moment for Kenya and I believe a very proud moment for the European Union,’’ Kenya’s Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria said after signing the agreement with EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, Kenya exports over 70 percent of its cut flowers to Europe.
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A pact with the EU would provide Kenyan farmers with ‘’assurance of a predictable market’’ and new opportunities to increase this trade according to President Ruto. He placed the EU second in importance to the World Bank as a development partner for Kenya.
‘’It assures a stable market for the industrialists, for our farmers and also industrialists in the European Union,’’ he added.
In efforts to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the EU declared in February that it will increase investments in Kenya by hundreds of millions of Euros through its own Global Gateway plan.
The agreement comes in the face of Western allies courting African countries with Russia and China acquiring more influence. The EU and the East African Community (EAC) began trade negotiations about ten years ago and the result is the Kenya accord.
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The EU and the EAC which at the time included Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania concluded an economic partnership agreement in 2014. The treaty was ultimately ratified by Nairobi alone.