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Kenya’s parliament ratifies trade pact with EU 

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Parliament has ratified the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) that allows Kenya to export its agricultural products to Europe without attracting tax.

The lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously approved the motion, which signals a start of the East African Community (EAC) Partner States securing the duty free quota free market access to the EU.

The legislators put aside their political differences to vote for ratification of the trade agreement that offers a ray of hope to Kenyan traders, especially those exporting flowers, fruits, fish and livestock products to the 28-member European market.

Speaking later after ratification, Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Adan Mohamed said the EU had given Kenya until Sept. 30 to ratify the agreement.

“Following the ratification, Kenyan goods will continue to access the EU market duty free and quota free. If Kenya misses the deadline, its products will become uncompetitive in the EU market because they will be charged up to 22 percent duty,” he said.

The CS noted that the task that lies ahead is for EAC member states to sign the EPA as a bloc and enter a legally binding trade arrangement between them and the EU.

Mohamed said that in the EAC, only Kenya is classified as developing country while the rest are considered to be Least Developing Countries.

“As a result, it is only Kenyan exports to the EU that will attract duty if it doesn’t sign the deal and hence the need for Kenya to ratify it before the deadline,” Mohamed said.

“Exports to the region support four million jobs as well as 2 billion U.S. dollars worth of investments,” he said.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Phyllis Wakiaga lauded Parliament’s move, and assured local investors that their industries are protected.

“We need to take advantage of opportunities EPA is offering in the EU. We are confident in the next three months we will have everyone on board,” she said, adding that the trade agreement is in the best interest of Kenya as well as the EAC.

Kenya would be the only loser if the rest fail to sign the EPA. The EAC member states and EU have been negotiating a trade agreement to replace the existing non reciprocal trade agreement.

In 2014, five EAC Member States initialed the agreement as a demonstration and commitment of the completion of the agreement.

So far the only EAC members that have signed the agreement are Kenya and Rwanda. Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi are yet to sign the agreement.

Tanzania has asked for an additional three months extension of the deadline in order to seek clarifications of the agreement.



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