Kenya moves closer to sealing major EU trade agreement
Kenya and the European Union (EU) have taken significant steps toward finalizing an Economic Partnership Agreement that will confer duty-free status and unrestricted entry to the European bloc for exports from the East African nation, according to officials on Monday.
After seven months of negotiations, a draft deal was initiated in June, with the EU Council approving it last week. The Union stands as one of Kenya's major export markets. The agreement is now set to undergo the ratification process in the respective parliaments of both parties before it becomes operational.
Rebecca Miano, Kenya's trade minister, expressed optimism about the agreement, stating that it marks a new era where Kenyan goods will enjoy immediate duty- and quota-free access to the European market. Additionally, she noted that, over time, European goods will also receive preferential access to the Kenyan market.
Kenya holds a significant position as a major exporter of commodities such as tea, coffee, flowers, fruits, and vegetables to the EU, constituting 21% of its overall exports. In return, Kenya imports machinery, pharmaceuticals, and various chemicals from the EU. The bilateral trade volume between both parties reached $3.6 billion in 2022, according to official data, establishing the EU as Kenya's second-largest trade partner. Notably, Kenya previously signed an initial trade deal with the EU in 2016, in collaboration with the East African Community (EAC) trade bloc, comprising six member nations at that time. However, the deal did not come into full effect as it was not signed by most EAC countries. Subsequently, the EAC has expanded to eight member nations, all of whom are now invited to join the new Economic Partnership Agreement between Kenya and the EU.