Kenya opens fresh talks with EAC over EU deal
MPs ratified the EPA pact on September 20, extending Kenya’s quota-free, duty-free market access until February 2 next year
Kenya has embarked on another round of diplomatic talks with her least-developed East African Community peers in a fresh bid to convince them to sign a trade deal with 28-member European Union.
The Jubilee administration is keen to hammer a regional Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, which the National Assembly ratified on September 20.
The next EAC heads of state summit is set for January 8, and only Kenya and Rwanda have inked the long-delayed deal with the EU – the country’s largest export market for fresh produce.
The two countries signed the deal on September 1, 2016. The State Department of Trade is leading talks to convince Tanzania, Burundi and Uganda into signing the EAC-EU EPA. The office has, however, dismissed mounting fears that the trade agreement will derail the region’s industrial growth.
The department will conduct an elaborate impact analysis to evaluate the benefits of the partnership to be completed before the summit.
“Tanzania says it is not signing because of prevailing circumstances. If our brothers and sisters tell us where the problem is, the answer is in the document,” chief trade development officer Josiah Rotich said yesterday, adding “EPA will not kill our industries”.
An extraordinary summit in Dar es Salaam on September 8 failed to con- clude in a signed pact. Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who chaired the summit, said the bloc will continue to discuss the EPA, and hopefully conclude it at the beginning of next year.
“We have given ourselves three months to discuss further the signing of the EPA agreement,” Magufuli said.
Parliament ratified the EPA on September 20, giving Kenya an extension of quota-free, duty-free market access to the EU until February 2, 2017.
The move saved the country from taxes of between five per cent and 22 per cent on her exports, which could have been charged from October 1.
Adviser for textile value chain at the Industrialisation ministry Rajeev Arora yesterday said the pact will benefit the entire region.“There is a growth potential for industrialisation. Everyone will benefit,” he said.