NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 26 – The Kenya government has now assured that the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and the EAC (East African Community) will be signed not later than October 1 this year.
Speaking at a media briefing, Industrialization Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed refuted claims that some of the East African member states have refused to sign the deal which was hoped to be signed on July 18 during the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Nairobi.
“When these negotiations started, there were quite a number of contentious issues to be discussed that each country including Kenya were not comfortable with. But all these issues have all been dealt with. They have been negotiated, agreed upon on both sides to make sure it works in the interest of all the countries and the region,” Mohamed said on Tuesday.
The EAC and its member countries have said the United Kingdom vote to leave the EU and other current uncertainties within global markets, as the cause to delay signing the document.
There were also reports that Tanzania has refused to sign the agreement while the EU is planning to sanction Burundi due to political instability especially after the recent attempted coup.
However, CS Mohamed says that the signing of the agreement is within the timelines and that all is set for October.
“I have made it very clear that we as all the Ministers of all the member states (EAC) that we will shoot for early August as a signature date. There was a requests made by the EU to have it signed around mid July; and that was the date that many felt comfortable for a number of reasons. That is what has caused a lot of noise about people not willing and ready to sign,” Mohamed explained to the media.
The EAC includes Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and Kenya.
Once signed, EPA, which has been in negotiation for more than a decade, would allow for immediate duty free access to the EU market for all EAC exports, and for the gradual opening of the EAC market to imports from the EU.
However if the deal flops, Kenya which is classified as a non-Least Developing Country (LDC) compared to the other EAC members, stands to be the biggest loser.
Kenya currently supplies around 38percent of the fresh flower imports into the EU market.