Kenya in a business deal with UK as Brexit beckons

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BY NAMULONGO PETER, NAIROBI,8TH DEC 2020-Kenya and the United Kingdom have ratified a new trade deal ahead of UK’s exit from the European Union on December 31, 2020.

The new deal estimated at Ksh.207.5 billion (£1.4 billion) assures Kenya’s continued duty and quota free access of the overseas market.

Trade and Industrialization Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina alongside UK International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena during the sealing of the Kenya-UK post Brexit trade pact in London on December 8. PHOTO | COURTESY

Kenya’s fresh produce goods including flowers, fruits and vegetables are among the biggest beneficiaries from the retention of the free-market access terms.

“We have agreed on a comprehensive package of benefits that will ensure a secure, long term and predictable market access for exports originating from the EAC free trade area,” said Trade and Industrialization Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina.

Trade terms from the ratified deal mirror those of the East African Community (EAC) and EU economic partnership agreement (EAC-EU-EPA) which continues to keep the door open for Kenyan goods in the EU customs union.

The new framework nevertheless addresses a new host of issues including barriers to free-flowing trade between the UK and Kenya, constrains to foreign direct investments and intellectual property.

“This is about securing and protecting Kenya’s annual £2 billion (Ksh.296.4 billion) ecosystem of trade with the UK on which hundreds of thousands of jobs and millions of livelihoods depend. Delivery if this was our primary objective for the year and we are thrilled to be over the finishing line,” said Manoah Esipisu, Kenyan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

The UK’s 2016 Brexit vote triggered the need for a new trade pact between the two countries and forced Kenya into rapid action to initiate fresh negotiations ahead of the UK-EU ultimate divorce later this year.

Kenya was at the same time forced to go to the negotiating table by itself as its EAC peers differed on the timeliness of new discussions.

The move by the partners was however seen as sinister as it is only Kenya which risked losing free access terns to the UK market under its classification as a non-least developed country (LDC).

In spite of going at it alone, Kenya has since secured non-hostile terms allowing it to partly shield its market from UK goods in an insulation of its critical industries.

The new deal will kick-off in 24 days following the Brexit transition with Kenya retaining a dual access of both the EU and UK markets.

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