The European Union is poised to formally endorse the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Kenya next month, as announced by President William Ruto.

President Ruto has confirmed the successful conclusion of the deal, with the EU leadership scheduled to visit Kenya for the official signing of the agreement.

“The European Parliament is set to endorse the EPA agreement which will widen the market for Kenyan goods, the EU leader will then travel to Kenya on November 27 so that we can sign the agreement together,” said Dr Ruto.

This milestone marks the culmination of significant efforts in negotiating this crucial trade pact between Kenya and the 27-member business bloc.

Last month, the EU Commission forwarded the EPA proposals to the Council for its approval and finalisation. This process has been closely observed by regional business advocacy groups who have voiced their concerns.

Kenya's Trade Cabinet Secretary and EU Trade Representative during the signing of EPA Agreement in June. Image: courtesy.
Kenya’s former Trade Cabinet Secretary and EU Trade Representative during the signing of EPA Agreement in June. Image: courtesy.

Upon receiving approval from the Council, the EU will proceed to sign the EPA with Kenya, after consent with the European Parliament, the deal will come into force.

The EU-Kenya EPA holds the promise of elevating trade in goods and unlocking fresh economic prospects. It includes targeted collaborations to bolster Kenya’s development activities.

Nevertheless, the East African Business Council has raised apprehensions regarding Kenya’s decision to reduce tariffs on EU goods, suggesting potential complications in the East African Community’s tax structure once the agreement comes into effect.

They fear the possibility of a distorted tax regime for imported goods under the new arrangement.

Notably, the EPA secures duty-free and quota-free access for Kenyan goods within the EU bloc, which stands as Kenya’s most significant export market and second-largest trading partner.

In the previous year, Kenya exported goods valued at $1.31 billion to Europe, encompassing primarily agricultural products like tea, coffee, cut flowers, and vegetables.

The political negotiations for this deal concluded in June of this year, marked by an official ceremony in Nairobi, attended by European Commission Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis and Kenya’s former Cabinet Secretary of Trade, Moses Kuria.

The agreement entails the immediate and comprehensive liberalisation of the EU market for Kenyan products, therefore encouraging increased EU investments in Kenya.

It includes robust trade and sustainability commitments, encompassing binding provisions related to labor standards, gender equality, environmental conservation, climate change mitigation, and a dedicated chapter on economic and developmental cooperation to enhance the competitiveness of the Kenyan economy.