Kenya, UK in first Economic Partnership Agreement meeting amid plans to expand trade

Investment, Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria

Investment, Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Trade and Investments Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria yesterday met the United Kingdom’s Minister for International Trade Nigel Huddleston in London during the first UK-Kenya Economic Partnership Council meeting.

Kenya in February last year unveiled the council that draws members from various ministries from both countries, which has been tasked with expanding trade between the two countries, including trade in services. The council meets once every two years as part of the UK-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which came into force in March 2021.

“Both parties agreed to accelerate work to remove barriers affecting bilateral trade and investment, working with our respective public and private sectors, and discussed the good progress made on the £3.5 billion (Sh557 billion) of green investment deals that UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and President William Ruto agreed to fast track at COP27,” stated a dispatch from London after the council meeting.

The UK is the first country outside of Africa to enter into a trade agreement with Kenya, which is the East African Community’s (EAC) largest economy. Mr Kuria will also meet UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch.

“By meeting, as agreed, two years after the ratification of the EPA, the UK and Kenya are advancing our joint commitment to securing jobs for Kenyans and growing our economies – delivering mutual benefits for both our countries,” said UK High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott.

Mr Kuria’s UK visit comes at a time London has demanded that its exports to Kenya be exempted from the raised EAC tax charges that took effect on July 1 last year, posing a big dilemma for Nairobi, which is bound by the regional bloc’s decisions.

The EPA deal ensures that all companies operating in Kenya, including British businesses, can continue to benefit from duty-free access to the UK market following its exit from the European Union.

The UK estimates that EPA will save Kenyan exporters over £10m (Sh1.59 billion) every year in duties on products such as green beans and cut flowers.

Kenya will gradually reduce duties on UK products they have deemed non-sensitive, providing Kenyan businesses with cheaper inputs which can support agricultural development and manufacturing.