The Star | 28 September 2016
Kenya finally deposits EU trade pact ahead of Saturday deadline
By GIDEON KETER
Just a week after the National Assembly unanimously endorsed the Economic Partnership Agreement, the government on Wednesday evening deposited the same instruments with the EU.
The agreement paves way for the implementation the East African Community-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement.
Majority Leader Aden Duale had told the House that Industrialisation CS Adan Mohamed had 10 days to notify the EU council of the ratified agreement to save Kenya’s exports from duties on hitting the October deadline.
The depositing of the instruments ahead of Saturday’s deadline seals Kenya’s decade-old negotiations with Europe. Had legislators failed to ratify and notify the EU Council, exports to the region would have attracted taxes of between 5 and 22 per cent.
The negotiations started in 2002 and were expected to be concluded to be concluded by December 31, 2007.
The ratification now means Kenya will continue to benefit from EC Market Access Regulation No 1528/2007, which governs the EU preferential market access regime for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries that have negotiated Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU.
The agreement covers trade in goods and development cooperation and also contains extensive chapters on agriculture and fisheries.
It also provides duty- and quota-free access for Kenyan and EAC products to the EU market, while creating new regional opportunities through more flexible rules of origin and cumulation framework.
It guarantees that the EU will not apply export subsidies on products destined for the EAC market.
In exchange, the EAC has committed to liberalise the equivalent of 82.6 per cent of imports from the EU by value and will be progressively liberalised within 15 years from the moment the EPA enters into force.
The Agreement has inbuilt safeguards on various sensitive products and excludes from liberalisation various agricultural products such as dairy products, fruits, vegetables and fish.
Others are wines and spirits, chemicals, plastics, wood based paper, textiles and clothing, footwear, ceramic products, glassware, articles of base metal and vehicles.
The Agreement sets up an EPA Council that will address implementation issues and will be reviewed every five years taking into account the experience acquired in its implementation.
Kenya, the only State classified as developing country among the EAC’s six members, ships close to 32 per cent of its exports to Europe.
Last year, it exported Sh581 billion worth of products to different parts of the world.
The rest of the members have alternative access to EU market as they are classified as least developed countries that have duty- and quota-free access under EU’s Everything But Arms initiative.