East African Business Week, Kampala
EU Wants Kenya to Lead
22 July 2013
Nairobi — 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).
None of the East African Community countries to date has signed the EPA that is supposed to define trade between the EAC and European Union for decades to come. Recently the EAC Secretariat disclosed that negotiations were coming to a close.
The EU has also reportedly backed down on some provisions. Influential regional business leaders felt it would hurt their interests when trade between the two blocs is fully liberalised.
Before flying out to Nairobi, De Gucht stressed there is no time to waste on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement negotiations between the EU and the EAC. While in Nairobi, he said Kenya’s good export figures are largely result of free access to the EU’s market.
This is guaranteed by a temporary instrument pending Kenya’s ratification of the 2007 framework Economic Partnership Agreement.
"But if we want this success story to continue ; we need to go further. The full Economic Partnership Agreement we are currently negotiating would not only make Kenya’s existing free access to the EU market permanent. It would also deepen our trade relations in a host of areas, by reducing trade barriers, simplifying customs procedures, and by improving trade-related cooperation." he said.
De Gucht expressed his disappointment by the decision of the EAC members not to sign this framework Economic Partnership Agreement in 2010.