Kenya goes solo in trade partnership talks with UK as Brexit window closes soon

Borris Johnson
President Uhuru Kenyatta with UK Prime Minister Borris Johnson. [Photo by NMG]

Kenya has decided to negotiate for a trade partnership with the UK government, a departure from its earlier plan to negotiate for a trade agreement with Uganda and Tanzania.

Kenya cited that it came to the decision due to delays by Tanzania and Uganda who are part of the East African Community (EAC).

The two EAC member states could not decide on time if they wanted to join Kenya in the negotiation.

Kenya said that with the Brexit deal slated to end on December 31, 2020, where EAC member states are to enjoy the duty-free and quota-free market in the UK, it will go solo.

Uganda and Tanzania can join later, Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina adding that the UK has okayed commencement of negotiations with Kenya alone.

“The UK and Kenya will not stand still and are working at pace to secure an agreement before the end of the United Kingdom’s transition period with the European Union at the end of the year. Indeed, such an agreement would provide a transition mechanism for Kenya and enable other EAC partner States to join when they are ready to do so and negotiations with the EAC continue,” the CS told Business Daily.

Kenya has taken a proactive move to negotiate a good trade deal since the lapse of the Brexit window in December will see all her exports to the UK taxed and restricted.

This is because Kenya has been ranked as a Lower-Middle Income while Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda who are EAC members are categorized as Least Developed Countries meaning their existing trade terms with the UK will remain unchanged.

Currently, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda enjoy a free British market without restrictions.

Maina noted that Kenya’s deal with the UK by close of the Brexit trade window in December will champion for the interest of the EAC as a regional economic bloc.

“This will provide the strongest possible platform for the United Kingdom, Kenya and, ultimately, the whole EAC, to expand our trading, investment, tourism and historical relationships in the future,” the Industrialization CS added.