The East African Community (EAC) countries have retaliated against Kenya by seeking their trade deal. Kenya left out all East African countries while having trade discussions with Britain.
The United Kingdom left the European Union Bloc under Brexit in 2019. This move led to the country seeking new trade deals that excluded the EU.
Kenya took advantage of this and started the negotiation process with the UK. These negotiations are centred on a new trade deal between the UK and Kenya excluding other EAC countries.
Consequently, the deal has caused tensions among countries in the EAC bloc since the countries trade under standard tariffs. This negotiation is the same deal the EAC had with the UK before it exited the EU bloc.
Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda have organized a pan-EAC meeting to discuss the negotiations with Britain. These countries have intentionally locked out Kenya of the discussion in retaliation for them being locked out of the UK trade deal.
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The countries want the entire bloc to agree to a new trade deal with the UK, not just Kenya. Kenya however, wants a unique trade deal with the UK, not the EAC countries.
The United Kingdom seems to seek an agreement with Kenya exclusively as a start. Based on the pre-existing EAC – EU trade deal, the UK will then seek to ensure a trade agreement with the rest of the EAC countries. The EAC-EU trade deal existed before Brexit.
Trade Deal with the United Kingdom
President William Ruto has been seeking the removal of tariffs between the EAC countries and other African Countries. The intended trade deal, however, contradicts this move. Kenya will not export goods to the UK under the EAC bloc if the deal goes through.
Ruto is hastening the negotiations to ensure the trade deal is in place before the expiry of the existing one in December 2023. If it doesn’t go through in the next three months, the country’s goods will be subject to import tariffs by the UK. These tariffs will hurt the country economically.
The tension among the EAC countries comes a week after the Ugandan government accused Kenya of unfair trade policies. The country’s government complained that President Ruto’s administration was implementing unfair trade policies.
They specifically pointed out the country’s intention to cancel an existing trade deal on the importation of powdered milk. This decision by Ruto’s administration has led to economic losses for Uganda.
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United Kingdom is the fourth largest consumer of Kenyan Goods after Uganda, the Netherlands, the US and Pakistan.