In a significant achievement for Brussels in its quest to deepen economic connections with Africa amid competition from China, Kenya and the European Union (EU) have successfully concluded negotiations and signed a trade deal. The Economic Partnership Agreement was formalized during a ceremony presided over by Kenyan President William Ruto in Nairobi on Monday.
Kenya Inks Trade Deal with EU
Once ratified and enforced, the agreement will grant it duty-free and quota-free access to the EU, its largest market where approximately one-fifth of its exports are sent. Meanwhile, imports from the EU to Kenya, including chemicals and machinery, will undergo gradual tariff reductions over a 25-year period, excluding certain sensitive products.
Trade Minister Moses Kuria expressed pride in the achievement, stating, “Today is a very proud moment for Kenya, and I believe a very proud moment for the European Union.” He made this comment after signing the accord alongside EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis.
The African country’s primary exports to the EU consist of agricultural products such as vegetables, fruits, tea, and coffee. Moreover, more than 70 percent of it’s cut flowers find their destination in Europe. President Ruto emphasized the significance of the trade deal, stating that it ensures a stable market for Kenyan farmers and provides new opportunities to enhance trade.
Dombrovskis acknowledged the strong interest of EU companies in doing business with Kenya, highlighting that they had invested 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in the country over the past decade. He emphasized that there is “a strong appetite” for further collaboration.
This trade agreement marks the first comprehensive deal between the EU and an African nation since 2016 and comes as China has been investing heavily in infrastructure projects across the continent through its Belt and Road initiative. In response, the EU has taken steps to counter China’s influence, including announcing increased investments in Kenya through its own Global Gateway initiative.
Kenya’s stability and potential have positioned it as a beacon of opportunity within a region that experiences significant turbulence. Dombrovskis described the emerging african nation as “a beacon of dynamism and opportunity” during a briefing with reporters, reaffirming the international perception of the country.
The EU considers Africa a priority region and hopes that the successful conclusion of the trade deal will serve as a catalyst for enhanced trade links with other African countries in the future.