Kenya and the European Union (EU) are on the verge of solidifying an Economic Partnership Agreement, marking a significant step toward providing Kenya with duty-free status and unhindered access to the EU market. The draft deal, initiated after seven months of negotiations and initially led in June, gained approval from the European Union Council last week.
Rebecca Miano, Kenya’s trade minister, emphasized the transformative impact of the agreement, stating, “Today’s agreement heralds a new dawn where Kenyan goods gain immediate duty- and quota-free access to the European market.” The EU stands as one of Kenya’s largest export destinations, particularly for products such as tea, coffee, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, constituting 21% of the nation’s overall exports.
The deal, which will be presented to the respective parliaments for ratification, holds the promise of reciprocal benefits. While Kenyan goods secure preferential access to the European market, European products will also enjoy similar advantages in Kenya over time.
Bilateral trade between Kenya and the EU reached 3.3 billion euros in 2022, making the EU Kenya’s second-largest trade partner. This agreement follows Kenya’s 2016 initial trade deal with the EU, which involved its partners in the East African Community trade bloc. However, this earlier agreement did not receive widespread adoption within the EAC.
President William Ruto emphasized the inclusivity of the new deal, welcoming all eight member nations of the expanded East African Community to join. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen encouraged other Eastern African countries to participate, recognizing the potential for shared economic growth and development.