KENYA – Kenya’s Ministry of Trade and Industrialization has announced the conclusion of the Kenya – UK tariff-free market access agreement, now set for signing and ratification by the end of the year.

This comes nearly 55 days before the expiry of existing privileges, as Britain formally exits the European Union.

The bilateral trade deal will allow British and Kenyan companies to expand on trade already worth £1.4 billion (US$1.8 billion) a year.

The agreement will ensure all companies operating in Kenya, including British businesses, continue to benefit from duty-free access as they export products including vegetables, tea and coffee to their customers back in the UK.

“I’m delighted we’ve been able to conclude this trade agreement, which lays the foundations to expand our trade in the future.”

The British High Commissioner to Kenya – Jane Marriott

Top goods imports to the UK from Kenya in 2019 were in coffee, tea and spices (£121 million), vegetables (£79 million) and live trees and plants, mostly flowers (£54 million). 

The UK market accounts for 43% of total exports of vegetables from Kenya as well as at least 9% of cut flowers, and this agreement will support Kenyans working in these sectors by maintaining tariff-free market access to the UK.

“The agreement will provide continuity for businesses, investors and supply chains besides setting foundations for further economic development,” said Trade Cabinet Secretary Beth Maina

It also guarantees continued market access for UK exporters, who together sold £815m in goods and services to Kenya last year.

Kenya’s biggest imports from the UK include vehicles, pharmaceuticals and paper.

Jane Marriott, the British High Commissioner to Kenya, said, “I’m delighted we’ve been able to conclude this trade agreement, which lays the foundations to expand our trade in the future.

“Whether it is in tea, horticulture, pharmaceuticals, or vehicles, trade between our countries continues to grow. It’s fantastic we’ve been able to complete negotiations so quickly and we look forward to working with the Government of Kenya to build on this in the years ahead.”

As the largest economy in East Africa and among the top 10 across the continent, Kenya is an important trading partner for the UK.

“I look forward to forging further trade ties with Kenya – the largest economy in the region – and working with other East African countries to agree on trade continuity, harnessing free and fair trade to secure shared prosperity for our peoples,” said UK’s International Trade Minister, Ranil Jayawardena.

Kenyan exports to the UK were recorded at US$367.5million in the 12 months to December 2019, representing 30 percent of US$1.2 billion total exports to the EU in the period.

As UK nears to close its deal, the governments of Kenya and the United States are still negotiating to foster a free trade agreement (FTA), on back of expiry of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2025.

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