Kenya is set to formalize a trade agreement with the European Union next week following the endorsement of the deal by the EU Council in Brussels.

The European Council greenlit the signing of the EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement on Friday, an important milestone expected to amplify trade in goods and create fresh economic prospects.

Business Day Africa is reliably informed that President William Ruto will lead Kenya in signing the deal with the EU on Monday.

The accord, designed to foster economic development in Kenya, fortifies ties between the European Union and Nairobi, considered the region’s economic hub.

The cooperative measures outlined in the agreement promise reciprocal benefits for workers, businesses, and traders on both fronts.

Emphasizing a commitment to sustainable development, the pact addresses critical areas such as labour rights, environmental protection, and climate action.

“This agreement deepens our connection with Kenya, positioning it as a strategic partner,” said Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares in a statement seen by BDA.

He said the inclusion of sustainable development provisions underscores the EU’s commitment to promoting responsible economic growth.

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

Upon entering into force, the agreement will grant duty-free, quota-free access to the EU market for all Kenyan exports. Simultaneously, it outlines a phased opening of the Kenyan market to EU imports.

The comprehensive pact includes binding provisions on trade and sustainable development, setting a new benchmark for economic partnerships with developing nations.

Kenya holds a vital position in EU trade dynamics, ranking as the first export destination and the second-largest trading partner.

In 2022 the bilateral trade volume reached €3.3 billion, marking a substantial 27 percent increase since 2018.

The signing of the agreement and its subsequent entry into force await approval from the European Parliament. Once granted, the agreement is poised to reshape trade relations between the EU and Kenya.

Negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement between the East African Community and the EU were concluded in 2014.

While Kenya signed and ratified the agreement in 2016, full implementation faced hurdles as not all East African Community partner countries endorsed it.

A breakthrough came in February 2021 when the EAC Summit, chaired by Kenya, permitted individual member states to implement the EPA.

Subsequently, in May 2021, Kenya formally requested bilateral engagement with the EU to expedite agreement implementation.

The process continued with a Joint Statement in February 2022 and concluded negotiations in May 2023, culminating in the submission of proposals for Council Decisions on the signing and conclusion of the EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement in September 2023.