It is now or never, EU put Kenya in a tight spot


Workers packing flowers ready for export in Kenya. Photo-flowerweb

At least 200 Kenyan firms dealing in agricultural exports to European Union are set to lose business, directly affecting millions of jobs in the sector if the National Assembly today fails to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement under the Cotonou Protocol.

The union has given East Africa states up to the end of this month to ratify the agreement which normally shelves Kenya from Sh10 billion a year tax for its exports to the European Union.

The threat of losing this key export market that accounted for 32 percent of Kenya’s Sh581 billion exports last financial year has seen the National Assembly convene a special sitting to consider ratification of the agreement.

Even so, Tanzania, which has not shown any indication to sign the agreement, may spoil the party for other regional countries including Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi who have illustrated their commitment.

Speaking yesterday, the National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said the House, which has been on recess since the beginning of this month will discuss and possibly ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement with EU which Kenya signed in Brussels, Belgium.

The deal is expected to be ratified by all parliaments in East Africa for it to come into force.

Early this month, the EAC asked the EU to defer the September 30 deadline for three months to allow for more discussions with Tanzania which is yet to agree to sign the deal.

If Tanzania remains adamant, Kenya will suffer the most since other countries will continue to enjoy preferential treatments from EU as they are regarded as least developed.

Kenya is the only country in the region that is regarded as developing nation by EU hence qualifies to be charged Sh10 billion annually in export tax.

This is expected to exert more pressure on the country’s horticultural sector which is already facing other challenges including tough safety requirement, high logistics costs and stiff competition from Ethiopia.

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