Kenyan farmers sue government to stop trade deal with UK, say pact will hurt them

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

Kenya small-scale farmers have sued the government seeking to stop it from ratifying a trade agreement with the UK until public participation is done.

The controversial trade deal reduces tariffs on imports of products such as chicken pork and maize for a period of 25 years. The farmers say this will hurt them as their products will have to compete with those from the UK.

There have been concerns that the 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.

The agreement seeks to have customs duties applicable to UK exports to Kenya progressively abolished.

The first move is the reduction of basic duty on UK imports to 80 per cent, seven years after the entry into force of the agreement, with a final abolishment after 15 years.

Between seven and fifteen years, the duty will be reduced from between 80 per cent (after seven years) to 10 per cent (14 years after the entry into force of the agreement). But defending the agreement, the UK High Commission in Kenya said the deal allows for gradual and partial reduction of tariffs on some but not all UK exports to Kenya.

State to engage all stakeholders on benefits of UK-Kenya trade deal, says CS Maina

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

Trade CS Betty Maina has also defended the pact, saying the government is committed to continued engagement with all stakeholders, including farmers and value chain players, on the benefits of the Kenya-UK Economic Partnership Agreement.

Speaking during a roundtable breakfast with the media at the Nairobi Serena Hotel on Friday, CS Maina said the agreement has undergone rigorous public engagement and an all-inclusive process with adherence to due processes and procedures as stipulated in the law.

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

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