“Kenya-EU Trade Deal: New Era in Africa-Europe Relations

European Union and Kenya alliance and friendship

In a significant stride for Africa-European relations, Kenya has inked a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union, marking a new chapter in their economic ties. This Kenya-EU Trade Agreement provides the EU with a fresh foothold in Africa, positioning it as a formidable competitor against China’s growing economic influence.

The Kenya-EU Trade Agreement: A New Era

Kenya’s President, William Ruto, presided over a ceremonial event in Nairobi, celebrating the successful culmination of discussions surrounding the EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). This EPA will allow Kenya, which exports a significant fifth of its goods to the EU, unrestricted and duty-free access to its largest market.

The agreement stipulates a gradual reduction in tariffs on EU exports to Kenya, including chemicals and machinery, over the next quarter-century. However, certain sensitive products will be exempt from this policy.

The Impact on Kenya and the EU

The signing of the deal has ignited a sense of pride in both Kenya and the EU. Kenya’s chief exports to the EU include agricultural produce, from vegetables to its globally acclaimed tea and coffee. Over 70% of Kenya’s exported cut flowers also find their way to Europe.

President Ruto underscored the agreement’s role in providing a stable market for Kenya’s farmers and opportunities for enhancing trade. The deal offers assurance to Kenyan and EU industrialists alike.

Competing with China’s Influence

According to EU Trade Commissioner, Valdis Dombrovskis, EU companies have invested a significant 1 billion euros ($1.1bn) in Kenya over the past decade, and they are keen to expand their business engagements. This development represents the EU’s first comprehensive trade deal with an African nation since 2016, occurring concurrently with China’s extensive investments in infrastructural projects across Africa.

To compete with China’s Belt and Road initiative, the EU has announced plans to ramp up investments in Kenya via its Global Gateway initiative. This agreement is part of a larger global pattern, with Western partners courting African nations to counter the growing presence of Russia and China in Africa.

The Future of Africa-EU Relations

Dombrovskis praised Kenya as a dynamic and promising powerhouse, reflecting the nation’s relative stability amidst the turbulence of the region. He stated that Africa is a priority region for the EU, expressing hope that the new deal would encourage the expansion of trade links with Africa.

This deal signifies the end of decade-long trade discussions between the EU and the East African Community (EAC). Although initial negotiations in 2014 involved other nations of the EAC, only Kenya moved to ratify the economic partnership agreement. Nevertheless, Dombrovskis noted that the deal remains open for other EAC members, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, to join in the future.