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Agriculture sector network says Kenya-UK trade deal hope to industry

By Fredrick Obura | March 29th 2021
Kenya's trade CS Betty Maina with British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott

NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenya’s Agriculture Sector Network (ASNET) has welcomed a new trade deal between Kenya and United Kingdom opening markets for traders in the two countries.

In a statement, the Network noted that the pact will facilitate the continued duty and quota-free access of Kenyan exports to the UK as they do in the EU market bloc, and secure foreign exchange earnings.

The sector acknowledges the agreement will enhance the competitiveness of Kenya’s leading agricultural exports namely cut flowers, fresh produce, coffee and tea even as the sector look forward to the expansion of the list to include other products.

Agriculture plays a leading role in Kenya’s economy and is a critical pillar to the country’s development strategy.

It is estimated that more than 75 per cent of Kenyans’ livelihoods depend on the sector, contributes about 33 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs more than 40 per cent of the total population. This calls for facilitation in all the key areas to enable the sector to thrive.

Since the vast majority of Kenya’s poor depend on smallholder agriculture increasing their productivity can contribute immensely to improving food security, increasing rural incomes, lowering poverty levels and growing the economy.

The contentious trade deal between Kenya and the United Kingdom (UK) is legally in force after a year of negotiations and parliamentary approval by both countries.

The agreement became operational in late March this year after top officials from the two countries signed and exchanged instruments of ratification.

This means firms exporting to the UK will now benefit from duty-free, quota-free access following the United Kingdom’s transition period with the European Union on January 1, 2021.

“The Kenya-UK Economic Partnership Agreement allows Kenya access to the UK market free of duty and quota restrictions and we are glad to know it is a contractual agreement,” said Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina.

CS Maina and UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Kenya Theo Clarke signed and exchanged the instruments ratifying the agreement.

The pact allows for a phased and gradual liberalisation of the tariffs on some imports from the UK. It is not a sweeter deal but is the same as the one signed and ratified by the European Union and Kenya in 2016. The UK deal gives a phased liberalisation for some goods for more than 25 years.

Some tariffs start to reduce after seven years. Some will not be effective until 12 years and will continue reducing slowly until 2046.

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