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Kenya, UK closer to inking Sh200b deal

By Moses Omusolo | November 4th 2020
Interior CS Fred Matiang’i briefs the media as UK Deputy Trade Commissioner Rebecca Fisher Lamb and Industrialisation CS Betty Maina look on after signing of the deal. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Kenya has inched closer to signing a post-Brexit deal with the United Kingdom that will expand bilateral trade between them, now valued at Sh200 billion annually.

This is after top officials met yesterday to finalise the UK-Kenya Free Trade Agreement, which guarantees tariff-free access to both markets.

Kenya has been in speedy negotiations to clinch a post-Brexit deal with the UK, with the current pact set to expire at the end of this year.

Finalising on the trade agreement will see the country ink a pact without the East African Community (EAC) member states, who have been dill-dallying.

While making the announcement in Nairobi yesterday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said the conclusion of the talks marked a big step in enhancing trade between the two countries.

Dr Matiang’i also said the State had taken the interest of Kenyans at heart during the negotiations.

“Our private sector can hope and expect that there will be certainty in the manner in which Kenya will engage with the UK in terms of trade or other issues,” he said.

The UK is Kenya’s fifth-largest export destination, with data showing Kenya’s imports from the European nation hitting £800 million (133 billion).

UK’s biggest imports from Kenya include tea, coffee, vegetables and flowers. The British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott said the signing of the trade agreement would lay the foundation for the expansion of business between the two nations.

“Whether it is in tea, horticulture, or vehicles, trade between our countries continue to grow,” she said.

“We’ve completed negotiations so quickly and we look forward to working with the government of Kenya to build on this in the years ahead,” she said.

UK Minister for Africa James Duddridge said her country is committed to championing trade for the mutual benefit of both parties. “This trade deal will build on the UK and Kenya’s historic ties and is the perfect platform to increase our trading partnership in future,” he said.

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Trade and Industrialisation CS Betty Maina said the conclusion of the talks provided an opportunity for the two countries to realise mutual benefits that President Uhuru Kenyatta and UK Premier Boris Johnson envisaged early this year.

CS Maina said the pact, once fully implemented, will boost trade. “Our key exports such as flowers and fresh produce will benefit from enhanced privileges for agricultural goods with originating status traced to the EAC,” she said.

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