On 22nd March 2021, KEPSA CEO Ms. Carole Kariuki Karuga represented the Kenyan private sector in a meeting between Kenya and the United Kingdom at Sarova Panafric Hotel where the two governments signed and exchanged the instruments of ratification signifying the conclusion of the requisite domestic processes of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
The meeting was graced by the Cabinet Secretary for Industrialisation and Trade Hon. Betty Maina, Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Kenya Hon. Theo Clarke MP., UK High Commissioner to Kenya H.E Jane Marriott, Principal Secretary-State Department of Trade Amb. Johnson Weru among other dignitaries.
Hon. Maina said that it was time for Kenyan exporters to the UK to position themselves in order to maximize the market potential for Kenya’s exports. “We are giving a joined commitment that the EPA will be implemented to the mutual benefit of the two countries. As we stated during the EPA signing, this is an important agreement that will allow our traders a free access to the UK markets,” She said.
On her part, Hon. Clarke said that the EPA will ensure that companies from Kenya continue to enjoy duty-free access into the UK market. She also said that the agreement will provide stability and certainty while guaranteeing Kenyan exporter the immediate access to the UK market on duty and quota-free terms while British goods will in the reciprocal see gradual access of up to 25 years to the year 2046.
KEPSA has been fully supportive of the deal considering the benefits to private sector. When the talks started, KEPSA set-up a Private Sector Consortium drawing membership from all sectors and business associations involved in trade with the UK. KEPSA was keen on the Kenya-UK EPA deal to maintain the duty-free quota-free access to the UK market after Brexit from 1st January 2021. This saved the country over US$ 24 million in duties under the UK Global Tariff which would have made Kenyan goods less competitive and affect thousands of jobs in the value chains.
Speaking during the meeting, the KEPSA CEO said that besides the traditional exports, ITC’s Export Potential Map shows that UK has the 3rd highest untapped export potential for Kenyan goods estimated at US $203 million. She said that the deal will help unlock opportunities for diversification of exports in line with Kenya’s Integrated National Export Development and Promotion Strategy and the Big 4 Agenda. “KEPSA commits to continue engagements with government and different partners to ease cost of doing business, facilitate linkages for businesses between the two countries and pursue partnership capacity building especially for SMEs to access and meet the UK market requirements.” Said Ms. Karuga.
The UK High Commissioner to Kenya noted that the overall objective was achieving a regional trade agreement with the East African Community.