Kenya and the United Kingdom are set to discuss and conclude a trade agreement by December this year, State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo has said.
In a statement, she said President Uhuru Kenyatta and British Prime Minister The Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson agreed to start negotiations for a Kenya-United Kingdom (UK) post Brexit trade agreement.
“The negotiations, which are expected to be finalized ahead of the UK’s exit from the European Union (Brexit) on 31st December 2020, will be conducted within the Kenya-UK Strategic Partnership Framework established by the two leaders in January 2020 and the East African Community (EAC) parameters in order to enhance regional integration” the statement read in part.
The two leaders held a telephone conversation, in which President Kenyatta thanked the British Government for extending visa over-stay amnesty for Kenyan nationals in the UK who cannot travel back due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions until 30th May 2020.
The decision to open trade talks comes hot in the heels of Kenya also seeking to conclude a free trade agreement with the United States.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates that the United Kingdom has overtaken the Netherlands and the US to become the third biggest buyer of Kenyan goods.
Earnings from exports to the UK increased 12.22 percent in the first quarter of the year to sh13.29 billion compared to a similar period in 2019.
The growth, the KNBS says, is largely attributed increased orders of cut flowers by Kenya’s former colonial master, helping London move from fifth to third largest importer of the country’s merchandise.
Kenya’s largest market is Europe and second globally after Uganda.
The UK, which buys about 19 percent of Kenya’s cut flowers, in addition to farm produce such as tea, vegetables and fruits.
The data shows exports to the US – largely textiles and apparel under quota and duty-free African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) recorded a marginal drop from sh12.21 billion a year ago to sh12.16 billion, a marginal 0.41 percent drop.