NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 1 – Kenya and Rwanda have led the other East African member states in signing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) ahead of the October deadline.
The move signals a start of the EAC Partner States securing the Duty Free Quota Free market access to the EU.
“Trade Ministers for Kenya and Rwanda have today signed the EAC-EU EPA agreement in Brussels Belgium, pursuant to the EAC Council decision earlier in the year for the EAC to sign the EPA,” Industrialisation Ministry said on Thursday on the Brussels developments.
However, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi are yet to sign, which still poses a challenge of EAC actually enjoying the free market access in the EU.
If they do not sign, Kenya stands to be the biggest loser as its huge exports to EU will attract duties since it is not classified as Least Developed Country (LDC) like her counter parts.
Kenya is aiming to conclude an agreement that will help her continue favourable trade deals with EU and at the same time with EAC without restrictions.
Currently, Kenya is the leading supplier of fresh cut flowers to the EU with an approximate market share of 38 percent.
On Wednesday, Kenya’s Trade Minister Adan Mohamed made an appearance at the EU Parliament where the matter to lock out Kenya from the EU market after 1st October 2016 was being discussed.
He made a concerted presentation to the EU Parliament’s International Trade Committee (INTA) and assured them of the EAC Partner States commitment to the EPA as demonstrated by over nine years of consistent engagement with the EU leading to the successful conclusion of the EPA.
All eyes will now be on the proposed EAC Heads of State Summit slated for September 8 where the matter is expected to take centre stage on whether to sign and ratify the EPAs or not.
“It is estimated that there are investments worth over Sh225 billion (€2 billion) in over 200 companies in Kenya benefiting nearly 4 million people most of whom are women and youth, particularly in the rural areas, who currently derive their livelihoods directly or indirectly from enterprises that are exporting to the EU in floriculture, horticulture, Agro-processing and fisheries,” the ministry said.