In a momentous development for international trade, the European Union (EU) and Kenya have officially signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). This landmark agreement is designed to bolster bilateral trade in goods, promote increased investment flows, and foster sustainable economic growth.
Distinguished by its comprehensive approach to sustainability, the EPA represents the most ambitious trade deal ever inked by the EU with a developing nation. Key components include commitments to climate and environmental protection, labor rights, and gender equality.
The signing ceremony took place in Nairobi and featured European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen alongside Kenyan President Dr. William Samoei Ruto.
EU - Kenya Trade Dynamics
With the EU being Kenya's top export destination and its second-largest trading partner, the EPA holds significant promise. In 2022, bilateral trade reached a staggering €3.3 billion, marking a substantial 27% increase since 2018. Once implemented, the EPA will further open the EU market to Kenyan products, providing new opportunities for Kenyan businesses and exporters. Additionally, it is expected to stimulate EU investments in Kenya, thanks to the enhanced legal certainty and stability it offers.
A Strong Sustainability Focus
Kenya has emerged as a leader in sustainability efforts on the African continent, actively participating in the Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate initiative alongside the EU and other partners. The EU-Kenya EPA builds on this commitment, making it the first agreement with a developing country to embody the EU's new approach to trade and sustainable development.
Balanced and Development-Oriented
The EPA acknowledges Kenya's developmental needs by allowing a gradual opening of its market over time. It also includes safeguard measures for agriculture, food security, and infant industries. Moreover, it incorporates a dedicated chapter on economic and development cooperation, aimed at enhancing Kenya's economic competitiveness. This cooperation, combined with EU development assistance, will facilitate the smooth implementation of the EPA, support local farmers in meeting EU standards, and unlock the opportunities offered by this agreement.
A Step Toward EU-Africa Relations and the Green Transition
The agreement aligns with the European Commission's commitment to strengthen ties with partners and regions in Africa, fostering sustainable trade links between both continents and within Africa itself. This commitment serves the overarching goals of the EU-Africa relationship and the transition towards a greener future.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, commented, “Kenya is a key partner for the European Union in Africa. The new Economic Partnership Agreement will boost bilateral trade even further, support investments and create good jobs in Kenya. This agreement will also contribute to sustainable and fair economic growth, bringing new opportunities for companies, to the benefit of both our people. It includes the strongest social and climate commitments of any EU trade deal with an African country.”
The EPA will now be presented to the European Parliament for consent, after which it will enter into force.
The Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Kenya aims to implement the provisions outlined in the EU-East African Community (EAC) EPA, with the possibility of other EAC countries joining in the future. This agreement underscores the EU's commitment to advancing trade relations with Africa and upholding sustainability objectives within these agreements.