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Kenya-EU Trade Deal Takes Effect in July
Kenya-EU Trade Deal Takes Effect in July
| May 31, 2024

Kenya signed and ratified the Agreement in September 2016, while the EU and its member states signed it in June 2016.

The Kenya-EU trade deal is now ready for take off after the EU Council on May 30 adopted a decision on the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement.

This is the final greenlight to the EU-Kenya EPA, which provides for duty-free and quota-free EU market access to all exports from Kenya (except arms), as well as partial and gradual opening of the Kenyan market to EU imports.

According to Trade Principal Secretary Alfred K’ombudo, who was the Chief Negotiator for the treaty on the Kenyan side, the EPA takes effect on July 1, 2024.

In his reaction, EU Council President Charles Michel termed the development as “excellent news”, noting that the conclusion of the EPA will enhance the “already flourishing trade partnership with Kenya and contribute to sustainable economic growth”.

The EU is Kenya’s first export destination and the second trading partner totaling €3.3 billion of trade in 2022 – an increase of 27 per cent compared to 2018.

EU Ambassador to Kenya Henriette Geiger said with the green light for entry into force on July 1, focus will shift towards implementation to make sure both Kenya and the EU draw maximum benefit from the agreement.

Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Foreign Trade Hadja Lahbib said that the agreement will strengthen EU cooperation with Kenya, the economic hub of East Africa, and that workers, businesses and traders on both sides will benefit from the shared commitment to sustainable development, including labour rights, the environment and climate action.

The EU Council in a statement said the agreement includes binding provisions on trade and sustainable development, such as climate and environmental protection and labour rights, and a transparent dispute resolution mechanism.

“This is the most ambitious economic partnership agreement the EU will have with a developing country when it comes to sustainability provisions,” the statement said.

The Journey

Negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement between the East African Community and the EU (EAC-EU EPA) were concluded in 2014.

Kenya signed and ratified the Agreement in September 2016, while the EU and its member states signed it in June 2016.

However, its implementation didn’t make much progress as not all EAC partner countries signed and ratified it due to protectionist stances by Tanzania and Burundi.

The EAC Summit of February 27, 2021, under the chairmanship of Kenya decided to allow individual EAC states to implement the EPA. Subsequently, in May 2021, Kenya formally requested to engage with the EU to move forward with the implementation of the Agreement on a bilateral basis. Discussions on the bilateral implementation with sustainability provisions were politically concluded on June 19, 2023.

On September 28, 2023, the Commission submitted its proposals for Council Decisions on the signing and the conclusion of the EU-Kenya EPA, together with the text of the Agreement.

The Council adopted a decision on the signing of the EPA on December 12, 2023, and theEU and Kenya signed the agreement in Nairobi on December 18, 2023.

The European Parliament gave its consent to the conclusion of the agreement on February 29, 2024, while Kenya ratified the EPA on April 24, 2024, pushing it to the last step to its conclusion.

This article was first published by our partner DiploBrief 

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