TRADE DISPUTE

Kenya-UK trade pact ends up in court battle

Farmers in court to oppose Kenya-UK trade deal

A case by farmers seeking to stop the trade pact between Kenya and UK will be heard on March 10.

High court judge Weldon Korir directed the Kenya small-scale farmers to serve the state with their suit papers.

The court issued no temporary order leaving the two counties free to go ahead and approve the deal if they so wish.

The farmers say they want public participation in relation to the pact to be conducted at the grassroots level to capture everyone's views.

The agreement among other things reduces tariffs on imports of products such as chicken pork and maize for a period of 25 years.

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

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

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

On December 8, 2020, Trade cabinet secretary Betty Maina 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.

The farmers argue 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.