A SEPARATE DEAL

Brexit won't hurt Kenya-UK trade — Hailey

Kenyan’s exports to the UK stood at Sh38.6bn in 2017, down from a high of Sh50.3billion in 2009.

In Summary

• Hailey said Kenya will remain an important partner to the UK.

• An Unctad study said a no-Brexit deal for the UK would see Kenyan exports drop by an initial $20.6 million (Sh2 billion), making it one of the worst-hit economies in Africa.

UK High Commissioner Nic Hailey receives a gift from Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau during a farewell luncheon hosted by the Foreign Ministry in Nairobi on July25
UK High Commissioner Nic Hailey receives a gift from Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau during a farewell luncheon hosted by the Foreign Ministry in Nairobi on July25
Image: COURTESY/ MFA

The outgoing UK High Commissioner has reiterated there will be no disruption to the Kenya-British relations with or without a Brexit deal.

Speaking at a luncheon hosted by Ministry of Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau on Wednesday, Hailey said Kenya will remain an important partner to the UK.

PS Kamau commended Hailey for a job well done in deepening Kenya relations with the UK  “through collaboration on matters trade and investment, defence and security, counterterrorism and in the fight against corruption”.

 

Theresa May resigned as Prime Minister on Wednesday, paving the way for Boris Johnson to take over the government. He promised — “no ifs or buts” — that Britain would leave the European Union in October.

“I have every confidence that in 99 days’ time we will have cracked it” and be able to exit the EU with “a new deal, a better deal,” Johnson said.

During a meeting with Deputy President William Ruto on January 29, Hailey said the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union would not affect trade relations with Kenya. He said exports and imports to and from the two nations wouldn’t be affected by the Brexit decision.

The UK has been one of Kenya's top export destinations for Kenya’s flowers, vegetables, fruit, tea and coffee.

“We have close to 300,000 Kenyans living and working in the UK and we are keen to maintain the traditional relationship we have had,” he said.

However, a study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in April found that a no-Brexit deal for the United Kingdom would see Kenyan exports drop by an initial $20.6 million (Sh2 billion), making it one of the worst-hit economies in Africa.

But in response tweet, Hailey said, “Deal or no deal, the UK will ensure Kenya retains duty-free, quota-free access for exports to the UK. We have made this clear to Kenyan exporters and will keep them briefed.”

 

UNCTAD said the UK and its future trading partners need to expedite bilateral deals if they are to avoid the costs of exiting the EU without a deal.

The report said: “The United Kingdom is aware of the problems that Brexit poses to trading partners and has repeatedly stated it will seek to bring into force bilateral United Kingdom-third country agreements from exit day or as soon as possible thereafter.”

Kenyan’s exports to the UK stood at Sh38.6 billion in 2017, down from a high of Sh50.3 billion in 2009.

The study found that countries that enjoy preferential market access to the UK such as Kenya under terms negotiated with the EU would suffer trade losses in case of a no-deal exit. Others are Morocco (Sh9.7 billion), Ghana (Sh9.1billion), Tunisia (Sh4.8 billion) and Mozambique (Sh3.2 billion).

Goods and produce now shipped duty-free — under an EU trade agreement —may encounter tariffs, unless Britain negotiates its own arrangement with Kenya and other countries.

(Edited by V. Graham)