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EU approves deal for Kenya duty-free market access

European Commission (EU) approves Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) on duty-free market access with Kenya.

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Kenya and the European Union has been approved by the European Commission, bringing the agreement that will grant the country’s products duty-free access to the EU market closer to reality.

The Commission, which negotiates trade agreements on behalf of the European Union (EU), declared that it has approved the EU-Kenya EPA and forwarded it to the European Council.

Now, only the Council and the European Parliament must approve the agreement for it to go into effect.

“The EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has today taken a step towards approval, with the Commission sending to the Council proposals for its signature and conclusion,” said the Commission in a statement released over the weekend.

Once the agreement has been signed, Kenya would benefit greatly since its exports will be able to enter the EU duty-free and without quotas. 

The EU is Kenya’s second-largest trading partner and its most important export market.

Kenya is the only country in the East African Community (EAC) that has not been enjoying duty-free and quota-free access to the European market as the other members are designated as least-developed countries.

The agreement builds on EPA discussions that were completed in October 2014 with the EAC partner states, which at the time were Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

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The EU-EAC EPA signing, however, was put on hold because of disagreements within the EAC over how the EPA would affect their economies.

The EAC initially envisaged the EU-EAC EPA as a bloc-to-bloc agreement – meaning the EPA could only enter into force after it had been ratified by all EAC partners.

However, the EAC eventually agreed that Kenya enter negotiations to implement a bilateral EPA with the EU. 

Other EAC countries – including South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which joined the bloc in 2016 and 2022 respectively – can decide to join the agreement.

Total trade between the EU and Kenya reached €3.3 billion (Sh518 billion) in 2022, with an increase of 27 percent compared to 2018. Kenya and the EU concluded negotiations on the trade deal on June 19, 2023.

The country’s main export to Europe is agricultural produce including tea, coffee, flowers, and fresh beans and peas.

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