OPPOSITION

Farmers want UK and Kenya trade pact stopped

In Summary
  • They want public participation in relation to the pact be conducted at grassroots level 
  • There are approximately 2,500 UK businesses exporting goods to Kenya each year
UK's International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena with Industrialisation and Trade CS Betty Maina
UK's International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena with Industrialisation and Trade CS Betty Maina
Image: MINISTRY

Kenya small scale farmers have sued seeking to stop the government from entering into a trade pact with UK.

The farmers want public participation in relation to the pact be conducted at grassroots level so that everyone's views are captured.

The agreement among other things reduces tariffs on imports of products for a period of 25 years.

The trade deal will also mean reduction of 10 per cent duty on intermediate goods after seven years from the time of its ratification.

The first move is the reduction of basic duty on UK imports to 80 per cent, seven years after the entry into force of the agreement, with a final abolishment after 15 years.

Between seven and fifteen years, the duty will be reduced from between 80 per cent (after seven years) to 10 per cent (14 years after the entry into force of the agreement).

Imports from the UK include vehicles(other than railway, tramway), machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers, pharmaceutical products, paper and paperboard, articles of pulp, beverages, spirits and vinegar, electrical, electronic equipment, textile articles and chemical products.

There are approximately 2,500 UK businesses exporting goods to Kenya each year, with last year’s total exports to valued at Sh29.9 billion.

Kenya's top exports to the UK includes tea, coffee and spices (Sh18 billion), vegetables (Sh 11.7 billion) and live trees and plants, mostly flowers (Sh8 billion).

But the farmers say the deal will hurt the rural farmers as their products will have to compete with those from UK.

The farmers together with Econews Africa believe the trade deal contravenes their rights and freedoms.

On December 8, 2020 trade cabinet secretary signed the agreement and submitted the memorandum to the speaker of the national assembly.

The national assembly on sensing that the trade pact does not meet the constitutional threshold required of a treaty making process issued fresh calls for views on February 26. The views are to be submitted by March 5.

They believe that the state has not given ample time to the stakeholders to give their views.

The agreement, they said, has far reaching consequences on the economy of the country and even more adverse impacts on small scale agricultural and fishing communities within the country whose mainstay will be greatly affected.

It also fails to protect the local infant industries hence affecting the development agenda, vision 2030 where industrialisation is one of the main pillars.

“This creates a higher sense of urgency and importance to ensure that a large section of Kenyans get to understand exactly what the impugned agreement is and how it will impact them, before a rushed decision to approve it is made,” said the farmers in their suit papers.

They now want the court to stop the state from going ahead and approving the agreement in question by March 5.