In a significant development for Brussels’ economic engagement with Africa, Kenya and the European Union (EU) have finalized a trade deal aimed at fostering deeper ties between the two regions. The agreement, known as the EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement, was signed in Nairobi on Monday, with Kenyan President William Ruto presiding over the ceremony. This milestone deal comes as the EU strives to strengthen its economic presence in Africa amid growing competition, particularly from China.
Once the agreement is ratified and comes into effect, Kenya will benefit from duty-free and quota-free access to the EU, which represents its largest market. Currently, approximately one-fifth of all Kenyan exports are directed towards Europe. On the other hand, imports from the EU to Kenya, including chemicals and machinery, will undergo progressive tariff reductions over a span of 25 years, although certain sensitive products will be exempted.
Kenyan Trade Minister Moses Kuria expressed his pride in the agreement, stating, “Today is a very proud moment for Kenya, and I believe a very proud moment for the European Union.” The accord was signed by Minister Kuria and EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis. Kenya’s major exports to the EU consist of agricultural products such as vegetables, fruits, and the renowned Kenyan tea and coffee. Additionally, more than 70 percent of Kenya’s cut flowers find their way to European markets.
President Ruto emphasized the significance of the EU as a development partner for Kenya, second only to the World Bank. He reassured the country’s farmers of a stable market and highlighted the new opportunities arising from the trade deal. “It ensures a stable market for industrialists, for our farmers, and also industrialists in the European Union,” he affirmed.
Dombrovskis acknowledged the substantial investments made by EU companies in Kenya, amounting to 1 billion euros ($1.1bn) over the past decade. He emphasized the strong desire among EU businesses to expand their activities further in Kenya, citing “a strong appetite” for increased trade and collaboration.
The EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement signifies a significant step in strengthening trade relations between the EU and Africa. By providing Kenya with improved market access and boosting economic opportunities for both Kenyan and European industries, this deal holds the potential to deepen mutual cooperation and pave the way for future partnerships. As Africa continues to attract global attention for its economic potential, the EU’s engagement with Kenya sets the stage for increased collaboration between the two regions in the years to come.
By: Mark-Anthony Johnson
Source: CEO at JIC Holdings