, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 15 – The European Union (EU) has asked Kenya to quickly ratify a law that will allow goods from the country to attract duty free status in its markets.
European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said although Kenya was on course, it needed to speed up the process.
Speaking when he met Deputy President William Ruto in his office, Gucht also urged Kenya to convince East African countries to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs).
The commissioner said the EU market had agreed to allow most products from Kenya but if Kenya does not ratify the agreement, all its products to the EU market will attract six per cent tax.
Gucht is visiting Kenya, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana to discuss ways to strengthen trade and investment relations through EPAS.
On his part, Ruto said Kenya will negotiate with East African countries to reach a common ground on the agreement.
“We are working with the private sector on this and by the end of the year we will have completed the process,” Ruto assured.
“It is our responsibility as a government to ensure the business community is facilitated. This will in turn help us fulfil our promise of growing the economy by double digits,” Ruto noted.
Kenya has a cumulative market worth Sh200 billion in the EU and if the deal is not concluded by October 2014 all goods from Kenya will attract taxes.
The country has enjoyed preferential access to the EU market for the last 38 years through four successive Lome Conventions signed between 1975 and 2000.
The EU is Kenya’s biggest trading partner accounting to about 25 per cent of the country’s total exports.
In 2012, Kenya received close to Sh250 billion from the market with the country’s main exports to the EU are fresh cut flowers, tea, coffee and vegetables, mainly peas and beans.