Ruto Signs Key Trade Deal Allowing Kenya to Access Duty Free EU Market

President William Ruto and Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Union Commission, on Monday signed the Kenya-EU Economic Partnership Agreement that was in the offing for over a decade. 

The deal allows Kenya duty-free access to the European Union Market, a market that has 27 member states, according to a communique released by State House. 

“This state ceremony is convened to witness the signing of the Kenya-European Union Partnership Agreement. After nearly a decade of waiting, the republic of Kenya and the EU concluded the negotiations of the Kenya European Union Partnership Agreement in June 2023,” the head of Public Service Felix Koskei stated.

President Ruto lauded the agreement, noting that it would help uplift the economy by granting the country access to the EU market, which is the second largest of Kenya’s export markets, accounting for 21 per cent of the country’s total exports.

Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry Rebecca Miano welcomes Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Union Commission on Monday December 18, 2023.


Ministry of Trade

“At the core of this arrangement is our aspiration to put real money into the pockets of ordinary people: farmers, craftsmen and artisans, fabricators, transporters, and various other kinds of workers who contribute to the manufacturing, inter-continental transport and last-mile delivery to the consumers of various products,” he stated.

According to the President, there is potential with this deal to improve the bilateral trade between Kenya and the EU to deliver trade and investments of volumes and diversity.  

He added that with the EU being one of Kenya’s biggest trading partners and contributing 17 per cent of the global GDP, having this agreement was just but the beginning of a historic partnership for historic transformation.

“The EU is not just a giant, lucrative market, it is a premium market whose demand guarantees higher earnings for our products and will drive our export production to higher levels of competitiveness,” the President added.

Speaking after the signing of the deal, the EU Commission President commended the deal, stating that it would create jobs in Kenya as well as boost the bilateral trade even further. 

“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,” Ursula stated.

According to the EU Commission president, The Economic Partnership Agreement between Kenya and the EU aims to implement the provisions contained in the EU-East African Community (EAC) Economic Partnership Agreement and will be open for other EAC countries to join in the future.

Ruto’s Climate Change campaign was also addressed during the signing of the deal with the EU recognizing his role in driving sustainability efforts on the African continent. 

“This is a historic agreement: Kenya is the economic hub of East Africa and a key ally in the fight against climate change. The agreement will unlock new areas of cooperation and mutual benefit for our workers, businesses, and traders. And it puts in the spotlight our shared commitment to sustainable development, including labour rights, the environment, and climate action. We now look forward to turning this deepened cooperation into meaningful action on the ground,” Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President and European Commissioner for Trade, stated.

Also present during this event were Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, and Trade Cabinet Secretary  Rebecca Miano, among other dignitaries.

President William Ruto, and Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Union Commission together with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi at State House, Nairobi, on December 18, 2023


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