CS Maina, UK defend deal that will allow British firms to ‘ship in goods duty-free for 25 years’

UK and Kenyan officials during the signing of a trade deal in London on December 8, 2020/ COURTESY

Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina and the UK High Commission have defended controversial Kenya-Britain deal will allow British firms to ship in goods duty-free for 25 years.

In a Twitter post, Maina said the deal provides “certainty for Kenya small-scale farmers in tea, coffee, horticulture, floriculture, apiculture etc. untapped potential”.

In a report, Business Daily said the post-Brexit trade deal with the UK would open the window for British companies to flood the local market with finished and unfinished goods that exclude agricultural and industrial products at the expiry of a seven-year moratorium.

“Kenya is offering to open 82.6 per cent value of total trade to the UK over an extended transition period (up to 25 years with a seven- year moratorium) constituting of mainly raw materials, capital goods, intermediate products and all other essential goods,” Maina said in an explanatory memorandum accompanying the EPA that was tabled in Parliament on December 22, for ratification.

UK High Commission in Nairobi termed Business Daily’s report as incorrect, saying the Economic Partnership Agreement allows for gradual and partial reduction of tariffs on some but not all UK exports to Kenya.

“This carefully phased liberalisation for some goods will be spread over 25 years from the start of the agreement,” the UK mission said.

“Certain goods will not be liberalised at all,” it added.

Nairobi signed a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK on December 8, preserving duty- and quota-free access of exports after London formally exited the European Union on December 31, 2020.

The Ministry of Trade further said the Economic Partnership Agreement, which is in the process of being ratified by the Kenya and UK Parliaments, contains specific provisions for protecting the Kenya and the East African Community market from unfair competition from UK producers

“The EPA will facilitate duty-free and quota-free access of exports from Kenya & the EAC countries into the UK market, implementable as soon as the agreement is ratified by parliaments of the two countries,” the ministry said.

The reactions followed uproar from Kenyans, who termed the pact as unfair to Kenyans and modern colonisation.

“Duty free for UK made goods into Kenya? Is this real? How will this benefit Kenya? What is the counter offer? Will our coffee, tea, fruits & flowers enter the UK duty free? We need clarity on this deal,” Kenya’s East African Legislative Assembly MP posed.

“Someone explain to me how Kenya benefits from this ? Where is the reciprocity?” Narc-Kenya leader and former Cabinet minister Martha Karua reacted to the Business Daily article to which CS Maina responded, “The headline and article is not factual. This is reciprocal agreement that phases in full reciprocal trade by year 25 with a moratorium of 7-12 years on different tariff lines. Kenya got immediate Duty Free and Quota Free access on our exports on Day 1”.

Kenya, UK sign new trade deal in London ahead of Brexit

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