•This will ensure a duty and quota-free market access between the two countries.
•It protects trade between the two markets as UK nears exiting the European Union, on December 31.
Kenya and the United Kingdom have finally penned a post-Brexit trade deal for a duty and quota-free market access effective January 1.
This ends months of negotiations meant to safeguard business between the two countries as the UK nears the December 31 exit from the European Union.
Kenya's trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina and UK's International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in London yesterday.
The agreement will ensure that all companies operating in Kenya, including British businesses, can continue to benefit from duty-free access to the UK market.
Kenyan exports will continue enjoying preferential market access previously covered under the EU-East African Community trade deal.
Failure to reach a deal would have exposed Kenyan exports to higher tariffs as the EAC–EU Economic Partnership Agreement terms will not be applicable in UK.
Kenya's top exports to the UK last year were in tea, coffee and spices (Sh18 billion), vegetables (Sh 11.7 billion) and live trees and plants, mostly flowers (Sh8 billion).
The UK market accounts for 43 per cent of total exports of vegetables from Kenya as well as at least nine per cent of cut flowers.
It will also benefit approximately 2,500 UK businesses exporting goods to Kenya each year, including suppliers of machinery, electronics and technical equipment, where continued tariff-free access will be guaranteed.
As one of the largest economies in East Africa, Kenya is an important trading partner for the UK, the British High Commission in Nairobi said in a statement yesterday.
“This deal also recognises the importance of the wider region, and the agreement is open for other members of the East African Community to join,”British High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriott, said.
The deal, she added, will support jobs and economic development in Kenya, as well as avoid possible disruption to UK businesses such as florists who will be able to maintain tariff-free supply routes for Kenya’s high-quality flowers.
“This is a landmark moment for our two countries to trade more, invest more and create job opportunities – a win for Kenya and a win for the UK!,” Marriott said.
Jayawardena said: “This deal makes sure businesses have the certainty they need to continue trading as they do now, supporting jobs and livelihoods in both our countries.”
UK Minister for Africa James Duddridge said the United Kingdom, Kenya and, ultimately, the whole of EAC, should aim at expanding trade relationship.
“We will use this agreement as the catalyst to deepen our mutual prosperity alongside the other areas of cooperation in our strategic partnership with Kenya that includes security, sustainable development, climate change, and cultural pillars,” he said.
In under two years, the UK government has signed or agreed in principle trade agreements with 55 countries. It is the sixth agreement that UK has secured in Africa, covering 14 countries.
UK-Kenya trade was worth Sh200 billion (£1.4 billion) in 2019.