Members of the European Parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly endorsed the EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), granting the East African country both a quota and duty-free access to its goods in the lucrative EU market.

The European Parliament voted 366 in favour of the agreement, 86 against, and 56 MPs abstained from the vote.

After the vote, the European Council will now give its final formal approval on the agreement for ratification process to be complete on the EU side.

“This agreement it’s a catalyst for economic growth, job creation and sustainable development. It will provide duty-free, quota-free EU market access to all exports from Kenya as soon as it enters into force, as well as partial and gradual opening of the Kenyan market to imports from the EU,” said Alessandra Mussolini, rapporteur for the file.

This decision highlights commitment to stimulate trade and economic relations between the European Union and Kenya, marking the inaugural accord with a developing nation that aligns with the EU’s novel approach to trade and sustainable development.

The comprehensive agreement encompasses binding and enforceable provisions about international standards, labour, gender equality, climate, and the environment.

Crucially, it establishes safeguards to prevent either party from compromising labour and environmental standards.

Distinguishing itself from the previous EU-East African Community EPA, this agreement introduces binding trade and sustainable development clauses, with potential disputes to be addressed through a dedicated resolution mechanism.

Kenya holds an important position in the EU’s global trade network, being its second-largest trading partner and primary export market.

Commission data from 2022 reveals that the total trade volume between the EU and Kenya amounted to €3.3 billion.

Notably, Kenya’s exports to the EU, valued at €1.2 billion, primarily consist of vegetables, fruits, and flowers, while the EU’s exports, totaling €2.02 billion, focus on mineral and chemical products, as well as machinery.