, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 18 – A European Union (EU) delegation is on Tuesday next week expected to meet in Nairobi with East African Community (EAC) officials to resume Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations (EPAs).
Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the EU to Kenya Lodewijk Briet has called on both sides to be more flexible this time round and come to a conclusion, adding that the talks are now overdue.
“One of the things that I think we as the Europeans have taken time to digest is that we must listen and that we must show respect. And those are two very basic capacities that I feel we have not always demonstrated,” Briet said.
Key matters expected on the table during the meeting will be the clause on Most Favoured Nations, issue of export taxes, further discussions on rules of origin on products and agriculture.
“We would like to establish a dialogue. The meeting will probably be chaired by the EAC Principal Secretary Ms Mwanamaka Mabruki and she will obviously be assisted by other officials,” Briet said.
In January this year, both parties failed to strike a deal in a meeting held in Brussels, Belgium on contentious issues but however managed to conclude on the issues of institutional arrangements and dispute settlement.
Failure to sign the agreement before October 1 this year, it will result in high tariff hikes on EAC’s non-Least Developed Country’s (LCD) exports to the EU. Kenya stands to lose since it is the only non-LDC in the region thus attracting import duty on her exports.
For instance, flower exports to the EU will attract an import duty of 8.5 percent which may force the prices of Kenyan flowers to go up and face stiff competition from other nations that export flowers to the EU on a Duty Free-Quota Free basis.
Close to 70 percent of Kenya’s total flower production is currently exported to the EU.
Briet was speaking while announcing the fourth Africa-EU Summit expected to take place in Brussels, Belgium in April 2 and 3 this year.
The summit brings together the Heads of State and Government of the European and the African continent together with the EU and African Union institutions.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to attend the summit under the theme ‘Investing in People Prosperity and Peace’. The last meeting was held in Cairo in 2010.