Kenya and UK sign post Brexit trade deal

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By Murimi Gitari, 14 December 2020

The United Kingdom and Kenya signed a post Brexit trade deal for a duty and quota free market access that will start in January 2021.

The deal, which was signed in London by International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Betty Maina, will ensure that all companies operating in Kenya, including British companies can continue to benefit from duty free access to the UK market.

This will also end months of protocols and negotiations of the European Union that were meant to safeguard business between the two countries as UK will be exiting by the end of December.

Kenyan flower exporters and fresh vegetables will continue accessing the UK market under a duty free, quota free arrangement, just the way they did when the UK was in the EU.

If the deal was not reached, Kenya exporters would be subjected to high tariffs as the East African- European Union Economic Partnership would not be applied in UK.

It was a translation of the terms previously agreed between the EU and the EAC and includes clauses to allow other EAC members to join.

Top good imports to the UK from Kenya last year were tea, coffee and spices (Sh 18 billion), vegetables (Sh 11.7 billion) and live trees and plants, mostly flowers (Sh 8 billion).

The UK markets accounts for 43% of total exports of vegetables from Kenya as well as at least 9% of cut flowers.

It will also benefit approximately 2,500 UK businesses exporting goods to Kenya each year, including many UK suppliers of machinery, electronics and technical equipment, where continued tariff free access will be guaranteed.

In a statement by the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriot, last week, has said that Kenya is an important trading partner of the UK as it is one of the largest economies in East Africa.

She said the deal recognizes the importance of the wider region and the agreement is open for other members of the East African Community to join.

Speaking during the signing of the deal, International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena said the deal will make sure businesses have the certainty they need to continue trading as they do now, supporting jobs and livelihoods in the two countries.

“Today’s agreement is also a first step towards a regional agreement with the East African Community, and I look forward to working with other members to secure an agreement to forge ever-closer trading ties,” the minister said.

The Minister for Africa James Duddridge also said that the agreement will provide the strongest possible platform for the UK, Kenya and, ultimately the whole EAC to expand their trade relationship in future.

“We will use this agreement as the catalyst to deepen our mutual prosperity alongside the other areas of cooperation in our Strategic Partnership with Kenya that includes security, sustainable development, climate change and cultural pillars,” he added.

In under two years, the UK government has signed or agreed in principle trade agreement with 55 countries. Total UK trade with these countries was worth $ 170 billion in 2019. The UK-Kenya trade was worth Sh200 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2019.

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