Kenya, United Kingdom ratify new trade deal ahead of Brexit deadline

KENYA – Kenya and the United Kingdom have finally penned a post-Brexit trade deal for a duty and quota-free market access effective January 1.

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) valued at £1.4 billion (US$1.8 billion) is aimed to avert likely trade disruptions which might arise once UK exits from the European Union on December 31, 2020.

The trade agreement was signed in London by International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Minister Betty Maina.

“We have a great opportunity ahead of us, to realize the mutual benefits that our two leaders, envisaged when they agreed on the need for a post-Brexit partnership framework.”

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Trade – Minister Betty Maina

Kenya’s agriculture sector is the biggest beneficiary from the retention of the free-market access terms as the UK market accounts for 43% of its total exports of vegetables as well as at least 9% of cut flowers.

Top goods imports to the UK from Kenya last year were in tea, coffee and spices worth £121 million (US$162m); vegetables valued at £79 million (US$106m); and live trees and plants, mostly flowers amounting to £54 million (US$72m). 

“We have agreed on a comprehensive package of benefits that will ensure a secure, long term and predictable market access for exports originating from the EAC free trade area,”

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“We have a great opportunity ahead of us, to realize the mutual benefits that our two leaders, envisaged when they agreed on the need for a post-Brexit partnership framework,” said Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Minister Betty Maina.

It will also benefit many of the approximately 2,500 UK businesses exporting goods to Kenya each year, including many UK suppliers of machinery, electronics and technical equipment, where continued tariff-free access will be guaranteed.

“I am delighted that today we have signed a trade agreement with Kenya. This deal makes sure businesses have the certainty they need to continue trading as they do now, supporting jobs and livelihoods in both our countries,” International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena said.

As one of the largest economies in East Africa, Kenya is an important trading partner for the UK and the signing of the agreement marks the first step towards a broader trade pact between the UK and the East African Community (EAC) trading bloc.

“Today’s agreement is also a first step towards a regional agreement with the East African Community, and I look forward to working with other members to secure an agreement to forge ever-closer trading ties,” added Ranil.

The deal is a translation of the terms previously agreed between the EU and the East African Community (EAC) and includes clauses to allow other East African Community states to join in the future.

In under two years, the UK government has signed or agreed in principle trade agreements with 55 countries. Total UK trade with these countries was worth £170 billion (US$228 billion) in 2019.

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