Speed up conclusion of trade deal with European Union, urges CS Amina Mohamed

Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary Amina Mohammed speaks to the press at Harambee House

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has called for a speedy conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union.

Speaking at a meeting with EU Managing Director for Africa Nick Westcott at the UN Headquarters in New York, Ms Mohamed (above) underlined the need to conclude negotiations on outstanding issues ahead of the October 1, 2014, deadline.

"A meeting of senior officials should be held as soon as possible, preferably next week to finalise negotiations on outstanding issues," she said.

During the meeting, the CS and Mr Westcott agreed the next round of negotiations should be based on the understanding and text reached during discussions in Brussels two weeks ago.

Endorsing the need to finalise negotiations before the deadline, Westcott said the East African Community (EAC) should have a common position based on the outcome in Brussels, adding that he was committed to working towards a mutually beneficial agreement.

Presently, Kenya enjoys duty-free, quota-free access to the EU market but this is set to change if the EPA is not in place by Wednesday. The present arrangement between EU and EAC is against World Trade Organisation (WTO) regulations. But the EPA negotiations are intended to make trade relations between EU and Kenya, and EAC in general, WTO-compliant.