The EU and Kenya sign a landmark Economic Partnership Agreement
Press Release: EU and Kenya Sign Landmark Economic Partnership Agreement
On December 18th, a historic milestone was reached as the European Union (EU) and Kenya inked an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). This landmark agreement is poised to propel trade in goods and usher in new economic prospects, emphasizing targeted collaboration to bolster Kenya’s economic advancement.
The signing of this Agreement stands as a testament to our collective commitment to further enrich and modernize our ties across trade, development cooperation, and sustainability. Its sophisticated regulations and procedures are poised not only to fortify our trade and investment bonds significantly but also to foster the diversification of Kenya’s economic landscape, enhance competitiveness, and attract increased investment.
The signing ceremony, held in Nairobi, Kenya, saw the EU represented by Xiana Margarida Méndez Bértolo, Secretary of State for Trade of Spain, and Henriette Geiger, EU Ambassador to Kenya. On the Kenyan side, the Agreement was signed by Rebecca Miano, Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade, and Industry of Kenya, and Musalia Mudavadi, Prime Cabinet Secretary, and Foreign Minister of Kenya.
Witnessing this monumental occasion were Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and William Ruto, President of Kenya.
Kenya has long stood as a trusted partner of the European Union. In an effort to elevate this robust partnership to even greater heights, a Strategic Dialogue was launched in June 2021, encompassing a diverse array of cooperative domains.
One of the central pillars of this Strategic Dialogue revolves around the economy, trade, and investment. The Economic Partnership Agreement, signed today, stands as a pivotal priority within this cluster and marks its first substantial achievement.
This EPA will grant duty-free, quota-free access to the EU market for all Kenyan exports upon its enforcement, alongside a phased opening of the Kenyan market to imports from the EU.
Crucially, the EPA embodies binding clauses pertaining to trade and sustainable development, embracing aspects such as climate protection, environmental conservation, labor rights, and a transparent dispute resolution mechanism. Notably, it stands as the most ambitious economic partnership agreement the EU has forged with a developing nation concerning sustainability provisions.
The EU stands as Kenya’s foremost export destination and its second-largest trading partner, with trade amounting to €3.3 billion in 2022—an upsurge of 27% compared to 2018.
Looking ahead, the EPA will come into effect following the consent of the European Parliament and mutual notification between the EU and Kenya upon the completion of their respective internal legal processes.
Background: Negotiations surrounding the Economic Partnership Agreement between the East African Community and the EU (EAC-EU EPA) were finalized in 2014. While Kenya signed and ratified the Agreement in September 2016, its implementation faced hurdles due to not all EAC partner countries endorsing and ratifying it.
However, following the decision made during the EAC Summit in February 2021, individual EAC states were granted permission to implement the EPA. Subsequently, Kenya formally requested bilateral engagement with the EU to progress with the Agreement’s implementation in May 2021.
A significant milestone was achieved on February 17, 2022, as the EU and Kenya signed a Joint Statement at the margins of the EU-AU Summit, committing to advancing negotiations on the EU-Kenya EPA, while keeping the door open for other EAC Partner States. Negotiations were successfully concluded at the technical level on May 24, 2023, and at the political level on June 19, 2023.
On December 12, 2023, the Council adopted a Decision on the signing of the EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement.