European Union and Kenya conclude negotiations on free trade agreement

The European Commission and the government of Kenya concluded negotiations on a free trade agreement on Monday. Due to built-in sustainability criteria on climate, environmental protection and labour rights, it is the most ambitious trade agreement with a developing country to date, according to the Commission.

The agreement elaborates on a framework agreement the EU previously concluded with the East African Community. Other countries from the region will be able to join it in the future.

The EU currently imports mainly vegetables, fruits and flowers from Kenya; Kenya imports mainly minerals, chemicals and machine parts from Europe. About 3.3 billion euros worth of goods were traded in 2022.

The free trade agreement means Europe will open its market completely to Kenyan companies once the deal comes into force and will no longer apply tariffs and quotas. European companies will get gradual access to the Kenyan market. Nairobi may bar "sensitive products" from Europe, while agreements have been reached to safeguard Kenya's agricultural sector, food security and young local industrial sectors.

"This agreement will bring our regions closer together and enable new collaborations and mutual benefits for our workers, businesses and traders"

According to European Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, who led the negotiations with Kenyan minister Moses Kuria, the agreement with "East Africa's economic hub" is nothing short of historic.

"It will bring our regions closer together and enable new collaborations and mutual benefits for our workers, businesses and traders," he said. "We now look forward to the rapid ratification so that we can make this deeper cooperation a reality."

Once the text has been checked for ambiguities and inconsistencies, it will be submitted to the Council, the EU body representing member states, for approval. After that, the EU and Kenya can officially sign the agreement, after which the European Parliament will give its opinion.



European Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis © PHOTO KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

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