Capital FM | 25 Sept 2006
Kenya urged to look for trade alternative
By Evelyn Njoroge
Kenya has been urged to develop an alternative strategy to fall back on in the event that the on-going trade negotiations with the European Union are not concluded.
Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Betty Maina said negotiators in the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA are not in-sync and the agreement might not be signed by the end of next year.
“When we go into negotiations, we must be prepared for various scenarios. In the event that EPAs are not concluded or not all members sign-up, we need a fall back position to ensure sustained trade with Europe in an acceptable framework that is WTO, World Trade Organization compliant,” says Maina.
Maina admitted that players like the private sector, parastatals and the civil society have not actively discussed on a plan B that should be driven by national requirements and interests.
She however, said Kenya’s concerns of the negotiations are justified as it is hard determine the outcome of the negotiations’ outcome and what effect it will have on the country’s investments and the labour market.
“There will be processed products similar to what Kenya manufactures that will come from EU and other competing countries such as South Africa, which has already signed an Economic partnership with EU that is one of our bigger challenges.
“We see possible displacement by Europe for our products which we sell in the region and where we are dominate player,” says the CEO.
The EPA agreement was established in the COTNU Agreement signed in 2000, and identified as a vehicle to negotiate a new non-discriminatory trade regime for developing countries.