Kenya finalises Uk trade pact amid EAC tension

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By Mercy Wanjama

Kenya has concluded a trade deal with the United Kingdom that will benefit many farmers. The UK-Kenya Free Trade Agreement was finalised after top officials met early this month.

It guarantees companies operating in Kenya, duty-free access when exporting products to the UK. This comes as a reprieve for most farmers as the UK’s biggest imports from Kenya include tea, coffee, vegetables and flowers.

Motor vehicle, pharmaceutical and paper imports from the UK will also enjoy duty-free access to the Kenyan market.

“Once fully implemented, the pact will boost trade. Our key exports such as flowers and fresh produce will benefit from enhanced privileges for agricultural goods with originating status traced to the EAC,” Industry and Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina said during the meeting.

Both countries will have access to each other’s markets under preferential terms.

The trade agreement come at a time when the UK is counting days to its exit from the European Union. The deal is a replication of one that Kenya already has with the EU. All trade deals the UK had signed earlier with Kenya through the EU will be valid until the end of the transition period on 31st December, 2020.

Lack of a trade agreement would mean Kenya losing access due to Brexit and facing higher tariffs on its products entering the UK market.

Minister for Africa James Duddridge said the UK’s approach delivers mutual benefits and that the trade deal with build on the historic ties between the UK and Kenya.

“It is the perfect springboard to increase our trading in future,” he said.

However, the UK-Kenya trade agreement has not been well received by other members of the East African Community (EAC) and could heighten the existing trade tension between Kenya and the other countries.

The EAC, which also includes Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan, had been negotiating a post-Brexit deal with the UK and talks had not been going so well. Kenya’s push to secure its own deal increased tension as it was strongly opposed by the other EAC members, which wanted negotiations as a trade bloc to begin in 2021, citing elections in the countries and the need for more time for the negotiations.

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A dispatch from the UK High Commission, however, confirmed that the trade deal with Kenya would have entry clauses for the other EAC member states. Thus, they’ll retain preferential access to the UK market, getting an opportunity for increased exports, skills transfer and foreign currency flows, while the UK expands its trade footprint in Africa.

The UK has so far signed five trade deals in Africa mainly through economic blocs.

Kenya finalises UK trade pact amid EAC tensions

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Kenya has concluded a trade deal with the United Kingdom that will benefit many farmers. The UK-Kenya Free Trade Agreement was finalised after top officials met early this month.

It guarantees companies operating in Kenya, duty-free access when exporting products to the UK. This comes as a reprieve for most farmers as the UK’s biggest imports from Kenya include tea, coffee, vegetables and flowers.

Motor vehicle, pharmaceutical and paper imports from the UK will also enjoy duty-free access to the Kenyan market.

“Once fully implemented, the pact will boost trade. Our key exports such as flowers and fresh produce will benefit from enhanced privileges for agricultural goods with originating status traced to the EAC,” Industry and Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina said during the meeting.

Both countries will have access to each other’s markets under preferential terms.

The trade agreement come at a time when the UK is counting days to its exit from the European Union. The deal is a replication of one that Kenya already has with the EU. All trade deals the UK had signed earlier with Kenya through the EU will be valid until the end of the transition period on 31st December, 2020.

Lack of a trade agreement would mean Kenya losing access due to Brexit and facing higher tariffs on its products entering the UK market.

Minister for Africa James Duddridge said the UK’s approach delivers mutual benefits and that the trade deal with build on the historic ties between the UK and Kenya.

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“It is the perfect springboard to increase our trading in future,” he said.

However, the UK-Kenya trade agreement has not been well received by other members of the East African Community (EAC) and could heighten the existing trade tension between Kenya and the other countries.

The EAC, which also includes Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan, had been negotiating a post-Brexit deal with the UK and talks had not been going so well. Kenya’s push to secure its own deal increased tension as it was strongly opposed by the other EAC members, which wanted negotiations as a trade bloc to begin in 2021, citing elections in the countries and the need for more time for the negotiations.

A dispatch from the UK High Commission, however, confirmed that the trade deal with Kenya would have entry clauses for the other EAC member states. Thus, they’ll retain preferential access to the UK market, getting an opportunity for increased exports, skills transfer and foreign currency flows, while the UK expands its trade footprint in Africa.

The UK has so far signed five trade deals in Africa mainly through economic blocs.

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