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Exporters at risk over delays in EPAs deal

The Standard, Kenya

Exporters at risk over delays in EPAs deal

8 June 2012

By Luke Anami

Kenya could lose heavily if Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are not signed, Musa Sirma, East African Community (EAC) minister said.

The move could see local companies relocate to the neighbouring countries The minister said failure to conclude and sign EPAs could also see exports to the European Union ( EU) enter under the General Systems of Preference (GSP) trade regime which is less favourable.

Sirma urged state agencies to move with speed to conclude the EPAs.

“In the event EPAs is not signed by EAC partner states, Kenya will lose all benefits enumerated therein. Export to the EU consisting of 80 per cent of the country’s horticultural produce and close to 70 per cent of the fish produced exported to the EU will attract import duty ranging between 8.5per cent and 15.7 per cent,” Sirma said in a speech read by acting PS Barrack Ndegwa at a National Stakeholders workshop on EPA’s at a Nairobi hotel,

“Products that attract preferential tariffs will not automatically access the EU market as they will be constrained by the stringent Rules of Origin if we fail to sign the EPAs.”

When exports to EU enter under GSP as opposed to the EPA’s, duties on exports could suffer upward reviews without recourse to Kenya and other beneficiary countries.

“GSP is unilateral and could be withdrawn anytime by the EU leading to a weak trade regime,” Sirma said.