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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya, Rwanda ink economic partnership deals with EU

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan and Rwandan trade ministers on Thursday signed economic partnership agreements with the European Union (EU) that allows the two countries to export their agricultural products to Europe without tax.

A statement from Kenya’s ministry of trade said the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in Brussels signals a start of the East Africa Community (EAC) partner states securing the duty free market access to the EU.

Kenyan Trade Minister Adan Mohamed on Wednesday appeared at the EU Parliament where the matter to lock out Kenya from the EU market after Oct. 1 was being discussed.   

“He made a concerted presentation to the EU Parliament’s International Trade Committee (INTA) and assured them of the EAC partner states’ commitment to the EPA as demonstrated by over nine years of consistent engagement with the EU leading to the successful conclusion of the EPA,” the statement said.

All the EAC countries—Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda—have been negotiating the EPA since 2007.

“If the EPA is not signed and ratified by all EAC partner states by Sept. 30, Kenya stands to lose its market to the EU, having significant impact on her economy,” the statement said.

The signing of the EPA, which was scheduled to happen on July 18, did not take place as a result of a request by some EAC partner states. 

There are fears if the deadline of Oct. 1 for signing the agreement elapses, Kenyan exporters of horticulture crops to the EU, whose exports account for 38 percent of the European horticultural market, would be forced to pay duty on the exports, which would make their produce too expensive to sell.

Kenya has been undertaking high level bilateral consultations with EAC partner states geared toward agreeing on alternatives for signing of the EPA over the past three months. 

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