Kenya’s push for an expeditious agreement between the East African Community and the European Commission over the long dragging trade negotiations suffered a major blow as nothing had been signed by yesterday.
An EAC delegation is in Brussels for three days of negotiations with the EU over the finalisation of the draft EPA deal that was agreed on by Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi on Saturday.
Kenya Human Rights Commission and others demand extension of September 30 deadline to sign the pending trade deal between the East African Community and EU on the grounds that failure to reach agreement will hurt half a million horticultural workers, mostly women.
A senior Kenyan Government officer who wished not to be named confirmed that Tanzania has been dragging its feet in embracing the new EU trade deal. “This might prompt Kenya to sign the agreement alone," he said.
Industry players fear that the more than 120,000 tonnes of fresh cut flowers exported to EU from Kenya every year could face taxes of between eight and 12% if the EPA is not signed and ratified in three months’ time.
Kenyan sugarcane farmers and consumers face a bleak future, as Government departments tasked with implementing reforms in the sector drag their feet.
Three remaining contentious issues will be dealt with by next month, according to the Kenyan government, which will be good news for horticulture farmers who have been worried that their market access will be compromised if Kenya loses its privileges in the EU market.
A technical team from the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism last week held a meeting with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Secretariat over the progress of the local sugar industry.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi has asked the government to seek an extension of the Comesa safeguards to protect the local sugar industry from excessive imports from the Comesa region.
If the Economic Partnership Agreement is not signed by October 2014, the Generalised System of Preference rule will apply to Kenya, which will entail a tariff hike for most Kenyan exports to the EU.
Kenya’s sugar sector is in limbo as the COMESA safeguard period nears its end. COMESA is the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.
Tentative plans to sign an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union could bolster some of Kenya’s vital sectors, but could also distance Kenya from its neighbors in the East African Community, or EAC.
European Commissioner for Trade, Karel de Gucht, was last week in Nairobi to drum up momentum for Kenya to quickly lead in signing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Members of the National Assembly last week opposed a push to have Kenya sign a trade treaty with Europe until outstanding issues had been resolved.
Kenya has moved to allay fears over reports in international media that it is among seven African countries blacklisted by the European Union for failing to sign Economic Partnership Agreements.
An existing trade pact between South Africa and the European Union is presenting a fresh hurdle in negotiations for economic partnership with Kenya.
Kenyan firms — regardless of their size — can now sue the government in the Common Market for Southern Africa (Comesa) Court of Justice, the highest in the intergovernmental organisation, if its actions break rules of the trading bloc.
East Africa Community says any agreement reached should not upset the common market protocol and customs union in the region.
Kenya could lose heavily if Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are not signed, Musa Sirma, East African Community (EAC) minister said.
The European Union Parliament has tasked a British MP to prepare a report that will determine whether Kenyan flowers exports will be subjected to duty in the EU markets, or continue operating in the quota-free market regime.