NAIROBI, (The Southern African Times) – Kenya and Britain on Tuesday concluded an economic partnership agreement (EPA) to ensure smooth trade when London leaves the European Union on Dec. 31.
Kenya’s chief negotiator Johnson Weru, who is also the principal secretary at Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprises Development, and Britain’s chief negotiator Paul Walters said that both parties have reached an agreement in principle of the Kenya/East African Community (EAC) -UK Economic Partnership Agreement.
“When, as expected, the agreement enters into effect at the end year this will secure long-term duty free and quota free access to the UK for Kenyan exports and our overall trade and economic arrangements. This agreement will provide continuity for our businesses, investors and supply chains and will set the foundation for further economic and development opportunities in the future,” they said in a joint communique issued in Nairobi.
It said that government officials of the two countries have “initialed” the text, marking the end of the formal negotiations.
“The text will now be prepared for signature in the coming weeks before it is submitted to our respective national processes including parliaments to complete ratification processes,” the two officials said.
Betty Maina, Kenya’s cabinet secretary, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprises Development said that the negotiations covered a host of important issues including barriers to free flow of trade between the two countries.
“We agreed on shared approaches to trade and investment, including the need to adopt common rules of origin and through broader acceptance of products,” Maina said.
Maina added that the agreement replicates the effects of the East African Community (EAC) EPA with the European Union that facilitates duty free quota free access to exports from EAC countries to the European market.
Maina noted the bilateral trade pact will deepen the EAC integration by ensuring that exports from Kenya and the EAC region continue to enjoy duty-free-quota-free access to the UK after Brexit – when the UK leaves the EU on Dec. 31.
Data from the ministry of trade indicates that trade between January to August shows that Kenya’s exports were valued at 34.9 billion shilling (320 million U.S. dollars), while imports were valued at 185.2 million dollars and a trade balance of 154.5 million dollars in the east African nation’s favor.
Rebecca Fisher-Lamb, British deputy trade commissioner for Africa, said that both countries have reached an “agreement in principle” on the text of the trade pact.
Fisher-Lamb added that the agreement lays the foundation to expand trade between the two countries.
She observed that by granting duty-free access to UK markets, bilateral trade can continue between businesses as it does now in horticulture, flowers, pharmaceuticals and vehicles.