Negotiated over an impressively swift seven-month period, this new agreement stands as one of the fastest the European Union has ever struck, according to officials from both sides. The pact is expected to greatly benefit Kenya’s robust agricultural sector, known for its exports of tea, coffee, flowers, fruits and vegetables, with the European Union absorbing 21% of its total exports.
In return, European goods entering Kenya will see a gradual reduction of tariffs over the next quarter-century, under the terms outlined in the deal. This careful, phased approach was announced during the signing ceremony in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.
The Kenyan President, William Ruto, in his address, highlighted that the agreement’s potential reach goes beyond mere trade. It is anticipated to stimulate both investments and manufacturing within Kenya, fostering broad-based economic growth and strengthening the ties between the two regions.
The agreement represents a significant milestone for Kenya, which signed an initial trade deal with the EU back in 2016, in partnership with the six-nation East African Community (EAC) trade bloc. However, due to a lack of signatures from most EAC countries, the previous deal did not come into full effect.
Given the unique economic status of Kenya within the EAC, which is the only middle-income nation amidst otherwise least-developed countries, this stand-alone arrangement was of paramount importance. Other EAC members could continue exporting without a similar deal, due to their classification as least developed countries, while Kenya had to secure this exclusive agreement to maintain and grow its export potential.
Before coming into effect, the deal will now be presented to the respective parliaments of both sides for ratification.
Looking towards future trade developments, Kenya is also engaged in trade and investment negotiations with the United States. The nation’s trade minister has expressed optimism about finalising an agreement by the next year, signalling a proactive approach towards expanding Kenya’s international trade relationships.