R. MIANO: Kenya-EU deal opens door to trade with Africa

Sunday December 31 2023

Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade and Industry Rebecca Miano poses for a photo during an interview at her office in Nairobi, Kenya on October 24, 2023. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG


Cabinet Secretary for Investment, Trade and Industry Rebecca Miano spoke to Luke Anami on benefit of recently signed Kenya-EU Economic Partnership Agreement.


Critics of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) say Kenya should brace itself for cheap imports from Europe, such as powdered milk, which was not liberalised…

Kenya should instead brace itself for increased investments targeting the 27 countries; the €14 million ($15.5 million) EU market where, given permanence of the pact, investors can be assured of long-term revenue and start diversifying to increase capacity for their firms.

We also expect more investment from the EU targeting sale of goods into Comesa, the East African Community and the African Continental Free Trade Area is a free trade area encompassing most of Africa — established in 2018 by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

Read: Kenya inches closer to 'historic' deal with EU


The dairy sector largely remains a protected industry under the terms of the Epa. Several products derived from milk remain closed for further liberalisation.

These include whey powder, powdered milk, yogurt, cheeses, butter and dairy spreads. Kenyans should focus on building competence to turn these into world-class industries with capacity to export.

Will the rest of the EAC sign the same EPA as Kenya's?

Yes, they will accede to the current document as individuals or as groups. The document actually anticipates that this will happen and is designed to ease such entry.

What is the impact of the EPA in terms of intra-EAC trade?

The EPA that was negotiated in its most substantial parts by a combined team from the EAC partner states. It, therefore, reflects what they saw as the best deal to stimulate trade between the EAC and the EU, and also among EAC partner states. In many sectors like tea, raw materials come from almost all of the tea-producing countries for auction in Mombasa.

Read: EU executive approves deal for Kenya duty-free access

For this to work, Kenya has an agreement that allows access and eases Customs and trade facilitation for all EAC partner states. We expect EAC partner states to accede to the treaty in the coming years. This will further create opportunities for cross-investment and intra-East African Community trade.

Is Kenya ready to implement the clauses on Climate, Labour rights and Gender equality?

Kenya seeks to be a world-class producer of goods and services, and adopting standards for ethical and sustainable production is in our interest. In any case, the principles of environmental conservation, gender equality and respect for labour are principles that we have agreed to adopt in our laws without reference to an external trade agreement.

We build on the International Labour Organisation’s fundamental rights at work, including prohibiting child labour; prohibiting forced labour; freedom of association; prohibiting employment discrimination and a safe and healthy environment for all.

The same goes for removing discrimination based on gender. These are standards are already enshrined in our domestic labour and gender standards.

We are just committing to these principles in the EPA signalling that Kenya is the place to do business — ethical and sustainable business.