Kenya vows to win over Tanzania into backing EU trade deal

Adan Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Industry, trade and Cooperatives speaks during the 6th TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) TICAD round table on the role of private sector in Africa's economic transformation taken on 26th August 2016. PHOTO:WILBERFORCE OKWIRI

Kenya has vowed to keep on pushing for dialogue with Tanzania to join other East African countries in concluding the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) deal.

Industry, Trade and Co-operatives Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed said the Government will only give up winning over Tanzanian authorities in January, when East African Community (EAC) heads of State meet in Nairobi for a special summit.

"We will not give up on convincing Tanzania to join us in EPA. We will keep up dialogue with them until January when they will give us a final answer," said the CS during the opening of a manufacturing summit in Nairobi yesterday.

EPA is a deal that guarantees EAC member States quota and duty free access to the European market.

EAC presidents last met in September and decided to give all member countries time to study the deal in depth and give feedback by January.

Only Tanzania is stalling in ratifying the agreement, which if it falls thorough will see Kenyan exports to the European market attract duties, which would make them less competitive.

The European Parliament extended the deadline to withdraw Kenya's preferential market access to the EU market to February 2, next year after the lapse of the initial October 1 deadline.

The Tanzanian Parliament, led by former President Benjamin Mkapa, has staunchly opposed to the deal, claiming that once implemented, it will kill the region's industries.

Meanwhile, CS Mohamed yesterday announced an ambitious State's plan that has jointly been developed with manufacturers.

It is aimed at ensuring the manufacturing sector contributes 20 per cent to the economy by 2020.

Currently, the sector contributes only 11 per cent. The CS said the sector's contribution to the GDP has been going down in the last five years, prompting the move.

"We have as a ministry and the private sector, developed what is called the Kenya Industrial Transformation Plan. The plan will among other things seek to lower the cost of manufacturing by seeing that energy costs go down as well as costs involved in transport and logistics," he added.

Mr Mohamed attributed the sector's below-par contribution to the economy to the fact that other sectors have been growing at a much faster rate.

He, particularly, cited financial services, telecommunications and construction as the sectors that are growing rapidly.

Mr Mohamed also said the government is looking to rejuvenate the steel sector to power manufacturing.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers Chief Executive Phyllis Wakianga said the summit seeks ways to promote competitiveness in the industry.



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