Kenya and the European Union (EU) on Monday concluded political negotiations for an ambitious Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which will boost trade in goods and create new economic opportunities.
The deal was reached in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, between visiting European Commission Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry Moses Kuria. It will facilitate trade and investment between the EU and Kenya.
“It is the most ambitious EU trade deal with a developing country when it comes to sustainability provisions such as climate and environmental protection and labour rights,” the two officials said in a joint statement.
The EU is Kenya’s first export destination and second largest trading partner, totaling 3.6 billion U.S. dollars of trade in 2022, an increase of 27 percent compared to 2018, according to statistics from the EU.
The EPA will create even more opportunities for Kenyan businesses and exporters, as it will at once fully open the EU market for Kenyan products, and it will incentivize EU investment to Kenya thanks to increased legal certainty and stability, the EU said.
“Kenya is one of our most important partners on the African continent. Today, we welcome taking our economic partnership to the next level. With this agreement, we are establishing a deepened relationship between us and creating new opportunities for our businesses that will increase trade and investment,” Dombrovskis said.
He said the deal will create decent jobs and economic growth, noting that the agreement considers their different stages of development.
The EU official said Kenya’s exports to the EU will be tariff-free from day one, while tariffs on EU exports will be liberalized over time and not on all products.
“This agreement reflects our shared ambition to underpin our economic relations with strong protection of the environment and climate, labor rights and gender equality,” Dombrovskis added.
“We look forward to the entry into force of this agreement as soon as possible so that we can fully reap the untapped potential of our economic and political partnership,” he added.
The deal contains strong trade and sustainability commitments, including binding provisions on labor matters, gender equality, environment and the fight against climate change, according to the statement.
The two sides said the agreement marks a major step forward in the trade and investment relations between the EU and Kenya.
It aims to implement bilaterally the provisions of the EPA between the EU and the East African Community (EAC) partner states, on which negotiations were finalized in 2014 and the EU-Kenya agreement will remain open to accession of the EAC partner states.
Kuria said the EU remains one of Kenya’s most important trading partners, absorbing more than a fifth of the country’s global exports and underlines the shared ambition of Kenya and the EU to upgrade and strengthen their trade, investment and economic ties.
“This agreement, which provides duty-free-quota-free market access for exports and certainty in the trading regime, will enable the private sector to trade and invest with confidence and expand employment opportunities for Kenyan youth and support livelihoods,” he said.
According to Kuria, small businesses – both European and Kenyan – will find fresh opportunities to be part of global trade through this agreement. He added that the parties will work towards the completion of their respective internal procedures for the entry into force of the EPA as soon as possible.