NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
East African Business Council (EABC), a regional
business lobby have called for the speedy conclusion of the
ongoing East African Community (EAC)-European Union (EU) trade
EABC Executive Director Lillian Awinja told
Xinhua here that the delay in signing the agreement is causing
anxiety among the EAC business community.
"We are concerned that if the agreement is not reached before
the Oct. 1 deadline, Kenyan exports into the EU will begin to
pay import duty," Awinja said during the Financial Services
Sector Forum that took place as part of the UNCTAD 14.
If an agreement is not reached, Kenyan goods will be
subjected to import duty in order to access the EU market while
goods and services from the other EAC member states will still
access the EU duty free because they are considered Least
Developed Countries (LDCs).
Awinja noted that lack of a trade deal will not only affect
Kenyan goods because Kenyan exporters currently have working
arrangements with the companies in the other EACs nation in
order to meet quantity requirements.
She noted that some of the EAC member states are reluctant to
sign the EU-EAC trade deal because they will not get additional
benefits from the agreement.
"We therefore need to bring on the table, the contentious
issues and renegotiate as soon as possible in the spirit of the
EAC," Awinja said.
She added that some of the EAC states will take about two
years to graduate into becoming developing countries and will
soon be in the same situation as Kenya.
Awinja said that it will be beneficial if all the EAC partner
states signed a trade agreement as a bloc because it will
portray the region as a single working customs union.
parliamentarians delegation visits Kenya over trade deal
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
A delegation of European Union (EU) parliamentarians has
embarked on a series of meetings with Kenyan officials on
alternatives to an outstanding dispute over the signing of an
Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), allowing barrier-free
trade, the lawmakers said Wednesday.
The members of the delegation held talks with Kenyan trade
and foreign affairs ministry officials and prepared to meet with
members of the civil society to gather concerns about the EPA, a
free trade deal which is being prepared for signature after more
than 10 years of talks with the EU in Brussels.
Bernd Lange, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee
on International Trade, said the EU was prepared to discuss new
alternatives to the agreement ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline for
Kenya, a country classified as a developing nation, risks
losing a big market for the flowers, fruits and vegetables
unless an agreement is reached on duty-free access to the EU
after the deadline.
Trade talks between the East African Community (EAC) member
states, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, on the EPA
have dragged on since they kicked off in 2004.
Tanzania, a member of the EAC, declined to sign the trade
deal until certain issues of concern, mostly those dealing with
export regulations, are fully settled, according to officials.
The EU lawmakers, including Helmut Scholz, Marie Arena, Arne
Lietz and Lange, said an arrangement to enable Kenyan farmers
and exporters continue to access the EU market could be agreed,
but only if the Kenyan authorities make an official request for
consideration by the EU bodies.
"We have a big problem with Burundi.
"The EU rules of procedure do not allow us to vote on an
agreement with countries under EU sanctions," Arena told
reporters at a news conference at the venue of the UN Conference
on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) 14th session holding in
Kenyan foreign affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has
been playing down the potential of Kenyan exporters failing to
get access to the European market due to the failure to have the
trade agreement with the EU.
The EU lawmakers said a meeting with the Kenyan officials due
to be held next month, would determine the decisions required to
guarantee Kenya’s access to the European market.
The EU lawmakers said it would be possible for Kenya to gain
access to the EU once a request is made for consideration under
the EU’s General Scheme of Preferences (GSP).The agreement
allows developing countries to access the EU market by paying
minimal duty or no duty at all.
"We are keen on having more development aspects on the trade
negotiations," Arena told reporters in Nairobi.
"We have problems from the EU side and the problems from the
region," Arena said.
The EU has declined granting Burundi access to its markets
because of sanctions against President Pierre Nkurunziza, whose
controversial re-election for a disputed third term, led to the
The EU lawmakers said measures to protect the Kenyan economy
would be required urgently, including consideration of requests
for approval allowing Kenya to trade under the GSP
The Kenyan government has embarked on shuttle diplomacy to
have Burundi and the other EAC states sign the EPA to save the
country from losing the key export markets.
Kenya’s deputy President William Ruto visited Burundi on July
13 for talks with the authorities on the signing of the trade
Four East African
countries are set to sign economic
partnership agreement with the European Union (EU)
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Four East African countries are set to sign economic partnership
agreement with the European Union (EU) next week in Nairobi, a
senior Kenyan official said on Wednesday.
Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto said Burundi, Kenya,
Uganda and Rwanda will ink the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs)
that allows these countries to export their agricultural
products to Europe without attracting tax.
The deal will however be signed without Tanzania which said
last week it will not sign the trade pact between East Africa
Community (EAC) and EU following Brexit.
The announcement caused shock at the EAC countries. Aziz
Mlima, Tanzania’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, said the country had decided to halt the signing
because of "turmoil" that the EU is experiencing following
Mlima said signing the pact would risk exposing young EAC
countries to harsh economic conditions given the prevailing
conditions in Europe.
The official said Tanzania’s Parliament would first peruse
and advise the government before committing to the deal.
"Our experts have established that the way it has been
crafted, the EPA will not benefit local industries in East
Africa. Instead it will lead to their destruction as developed
countries are likely to dominate the market," Mlima said.
Ruto had travelled to Burundi to meet President Pierre
Nkurunziza on Wednesday over the EPAs deal set to be signed on
Monday next week. All four partner states, except Tanzania,
participated and agreed to sign the agreement.
A statement issued in Nairobi after the visit to Burundi said
the development (Tanzania refusal) poses a great threat to the
EAC Customs Union which requires all Partners States to sign the
EPA in order to safeguard against the perforation of the Common
"In the event that the EAC does not sign the EPA as a bloc,
all EAC partner states stand to lose generous market access
terms negotiated under the EU market," Ruto said.
The decision by Tanzania not to sign the agreement leaves the
region, and specifically Kenya, at a great risk of losing a lot
of revenue when exporting goods to the EU.
This essentially means Kenya’s exports to the European
Union-mainly flowers and vegetables-will attract tax. Kenya
exports produce worth 1.2 billion U.S. dollars to the European
The EAC partner states negotiated EPA as a bloc since 2007
and Ruto said Kenya stands to lose more because its exports to
the EU will attract import duties thereby threatening jobs,
revenue, and relocation of industries to less developed
According to the statement, Ruto and Nkurunziza said
stability of the region was important for economic growth and
welfare of the people.
The economic agreement is due for signing by East African
countries after the Sectoral Council of Trade, Industry, Finance
and Investment (SCTIFI) EAC agreed.
An extra-ordinary council meeting of ministers responsible
for East African Affairs met on June 30 and proposed that the
countries sign the agreement on July 18.