NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 28 – The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Kenya Stefano Dejak says the bloc will find a way of agreeing terms of trade with Kenya if other East African Community states fail to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreements.
The deadline for signing by East African Community countries was initially set for October 1 but EAC Heads of State agreed to postpone signing the EPAs until at least January 2017.
“Thanks to our good relations we have found a way to address this and extend the period, if that would turn out to be the case, we would certainly look at how best to partner with the Government of Kenya and other members of the EAC to do the best for both, but especially for Kenya,” he said after an EU Commission luncheon with Gender Affairs, Public Service and Youth Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.
Only Kenya and Rwanda have signed and ratified the EPAs deal that grants the region some privileges to export horticultural products to EU without custom charges.
The statement has allayed fears that if the remaining EAC states do not sign, Kenya – being the bloc’s only developing state – stands to be the biggest loser as its huge exports to EU will attract duties since it is not classified as Least Developed Country like her regional counter parts.
READ: Kenya, Rwanda lead signing of EPAs with Europe
The rest of the members have alternative access to EU as they are all classified as Least Developed Countries.
Dejak says the agreement had given the EAC a lot of credibility and had assisted the region to attract investments.
“30 percent of the export represent a lot in money terms, in job terms and in terms of how good is our relations because we are you first commercial partner as the EU and we very much look forward to not only remain so, but to make it better and better,” he stated.
EPAs are trade and development agreements negotiated between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific partners engaged in regional economic integration processes.
The EPAs is intended to guarantee the EAC traders duty-and-quota free access to the EU market in exchange for a gradual opening of up to 80 per cent of the region’s market to European products.
All EAC members have been negotiating the EPAs since 2007 leading to conclusion of negotiations in 2014 where it was initialled, translated and legal scrubbing concluded. Of the six members, Tanzania has publicly indicated its unwillingness to sign the agreement with Europe saying it could stifle its economy.