By Mark Kawalya
Kenya and the European Union (EU) signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) on December 18, 2023, to boost bilateral trade in goods, increase investment flows, and create jobs in Kenya. The EPA will give Kenya duty-free and quota-free access to the EU. The EU is Kenya’s biggest export market, while European goods entering Keyna will receive progressive tariff reductions. The agreement is the first broad trade deal between the EU and an African nation since 2016. The deal includes commitments to sustainable development in areas such as labor rights and environmental protection.
The EU is the biggest importer of agricultural products from African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries, and the bilateral agreement with Kenya offers opportunities for farmers in EPA partner countries. This opportunity is particularly important since the majority of Kenya’s exports to the EU are horticultural products. The EPA represents a significant development, with Kenya having a growing political role in the region and further afield.
The EPA will boost bilateral trade even more, support investments, and create jobs in Kenya. The agreement will also contribute to sustainable and fair economic growth, bringing new opportunities for companies to the benefit of both residents of Kenya and the EU. The deal includes the strongest social and climate commitments of any EU trade deal with an African country. The deal, once signed, will be a major boost to Kenya as it will enable the country’s exports to enter the EU duty-free and quota-free. The EU is Kenya’s second-largest trading partner and its most important export market.
The Kenya-EU partnership agreement signifies Kenya’s commitment to diversifying its export mix into Europe with value-added manufactured products. Kenya is the only country in the East African Community (EAC) that has not been enjoying duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market. The agreement leaves the door open for other EAC partners to join so that, together as a region, they can benefit from the EPA. The EPA will also support sustainable agriculture, industrial development, and diversification of trade.