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Updated December 18th, 2023 at 14:00 IST

Kenya, EU advance economic partnership agreement to boost trade

The agreement, now set for presentation to the respective parliaments for ratification, marks a crucial development for Kenya.

Business Desk
Europe
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Kenya and the European Union (EU) have taken significant steps towards finalising an Economic Partnership Agreement, providing Kenya's exports with duty-free status and unrestricted access to the EU market, according to officials on Monday. After seven months of negotiations, a draft deal was initiated in June, and it gained approval from the European Union Council last week. 

The agreement, now set for presentation to the respective parliaments for ratification, marks a crucial development for Kenya, given the EU's status as one of its major export markets.

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Rebecca Miano, Kenya's trade minister, expressed optimism about the agreement, highlighting that Kenyan goods will immediately benefit from duty- and quota-free access to the European market. Additionally, she noted that, over time, European goods will enjoy preferential access to the Kenyan market.

Kenya, known for exporting tea, coffee, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, particularly to the EU, sees 21 per cent of its overall exports directed towards the bloc. In return, Kenya imports machinery, pharmaceuticals, and other chemicals from the EU. Bilateral trade between Kenya and the EU amounted to 3.3 billion euros in 2022, making the EU the second-largest trade partner for the East African nation.

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Notably, Kenya signed an initial trade deal with the EU in 2016 as part of the East African Community (EAC) trade bloc. However, the agreement did not come into full effect as most EAC countries did not sign it. Kenya's President William Ruto underlined that the new agreement is open for all eight EAC member nations to join, welcoming their participation.

President Ruto stated, "This agreement that we are signing today leaves the door open, and I say, wide open, for our EAC partners to join." While other EAC members, classified as least developed countries, may continue to access the market without the deal, Kenya, as a middle-income country, pursued a stand-alone arrangement. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen encouraged other Eastern African countries to consider joining the agreement.

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(With Reuters inputs)

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Published December 18th, 2023 at 14:00 IST

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