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EU and Kenya conclude negotiations for an ambitious Economic Partnership Agreement
European Interest | 19th June 2023
By European Interest
The EU and Kenya have announced today the political conclusion of the negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The Agreement will boost trade in goods and create new economic opportunities, with targeted cooperation to enhance Kenya’s economic development. It is the most ambitious EU trade deal with a developing country when it comes to sustainability provisions such as climate and environmental protection and labour rights.
The Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Kenya aims at implementing the provisions the EU-East African Community (EAC) EPA, and it will be open for other EAC countries to join in the future.
The EPA and its ambitious commitments represent a crucial deliverable of the EU’s 2021 Trade Policy Review and its trade policy with Africa, helping the EU to deepen and expand its current trade agreements with African countries and enhance their sustainability objectives.
The negotiations were concluded during an official ceremony in Nairobi by European Commission Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis and Cabinet Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry, Hon. Moses Kuria, in the presence of Kenyan President Dr. William Samoei Ruto.
The EU is Kenya’s first export destination and second largest trading partner, totalling €3.3 billion of trade in 2022 – an increase of 27% compared to 2018. The EPA will create even more opportunities for Kenyan businesses and exporters, as it will at once fully open the EU market for Kenyan products, and it will incentivise EU investment to Kenya thanks to increased legal certainty and stability.
Kenya has a pioneering role in sustainability efforts on the African continent and is a reliable ally in the fight against climate change. It co-leads the Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate initiative launched earlier this year, together with the EU, Ecuador and New Zealand. The EU-Kenya EPA builds on this strong track record and is the first agreement with a developing country in which the EU’s new approach to trade and sustainable development is reflected. The deal contains strong trade and sustainability commitments, including binding provisions on labour matters, gender equality, environment and the fight against climate change.
This is a balanced agreement, taking into account Kenya’s development needs by allowing it a longer period to gradually open its market, safeguards for agriculture, and protection of its developing industry. A dedicated chapter has been included on economic and development cooperation, aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the Kenyan economy. Together with EU development assistance, this will help build capacity and assist Kenya in implementing the EPA smoothly, while supporting local farmers in meeting EU standards and in reaping the opportunities this agreement provides.
The EPA will have to go through legal revision (“legal scrubbing”) and then be translated before the Commission submits it for signature and conclusion to the Council. Once adopted by the Council, the EU and Kenya can sign the agreement. Following the signature, the text will be transmitted to the European Parliament for consent. The parties may then decide to provisionally apply parts of the agreement, the agreement enters fully into force once Kenya and the EU member states also ratify it.