UK-Kenya trade deal to be extended to five additional East African states

A recently signed trade deal between the UK and Kenya will be extended to Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Tanzania, according to multiple media reports in Kenya.

For several weeks, the UK-Kenyan Economic Partnership Agreement faced threats of not being ratified from both members of the UK House of Lords and Kenyan MPs, until reports of a ‘breakthrough’ surfaced at the weekend.

In London, the House of Lords said two weeks ago it would need more time to ratify the agreement amid concerns the UK government had not addressed the potential impact of the pact on regional cohesion in the East Africa region.

In Nairobi, a majority of MPs expressed concern regarding unspecified clauses on goods exported from the UK to Kenya and reportedly said that until they are fully aware of the details of the trade arrangements, the agreement cannot come into force.

While it remains unclear if these issues have been fully addressed, Kenya’s cabinet secretary Betty Maina told The East African regional newspaper: “The UK is providing Kenya and all its EAC [East African Community] neighbours a secure, long-term and predictable basis for deepening their access to the UK market.”

The UK-Kenya trade deal was signed in December and provides Kenyan businesses duty-free access to the UK market, aimed at supporting jobs and economic development in Kenya, in addition to reducing disruption to UK businesses as they maintain tariff-free supply routes for Kenyan export products.

In 2019, UK-Kenya trade was worth an estimated £1.4 billion, with the UK a major market for  Kenyan exporters of tea, coffee, flowers and fresh vegetables.