The European Union and Kenya signed a trade agreement on Monday, a victory for Brussels as it seeks stronger economic links with Africa in the face of Chinese competition. Kenyan President William Ruto presided over a ceremony in Nairobi to mark the final end of the EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement discussions.

Kenya would gain duty-free and quota-free access to the EU, its largest market, where it sends nearly one-fifth of all exports, once the treaty is ratified and enters into force.

Chemicals and machinery imported from the EU to Kenya would see incremental tariff reductions over a 25-year period, but some sensitive products will be excluded. “Today is a very proud day for Kenya, and I believe a very proud day for the world.” Kenyan Trade Minister Moses Kuria stated upon the signing of the agreement with EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis.

Kenya’s principal agricultural exports to the EU are vegetables, fruits, and the country’s famous tea and coffee. Kenya’s farmers, according to Ruto, can be “assured of a predictable market,” and the deal provides additional potential to grow this trade.

“It ensures a stable market for industrialists, our farmers, and also industrialists in the European Union,” he said. Dombrovskis stated that while EU companies have spent one billion euros ($1.1 billion) in Kenya over the last decade, there is “a strong appetite” for more investment.

“With this deal in place, we have the right platform to do so,” he explained. It is the first comprehensive trade agreement between the Union and any African Nation since 2016, and comes on the heels of China’s spending frenzy on extravagant infrastructure projects across the continent.

In response to China’s Belt and Road plan, the EU said in February that it will raise its investments in Kenya by hundreds of millions of dollars through its own Global Gateway plan. The international community regards Kenya as a dependable and stable democracy in a volatile region, and Dombrovskis described the East African powerhouse as “a beacon of dynamism and opportunity.”

Dombrovskis told reporters ahead of Monday’s event that Africa was a “priority region” for the EU and that he hoped the Kenya agreement would resonate elsewhere on the continent. The Kenya agreement is the culmination of over a decade of trade talks between the EU and the East African Community (EAC).

The EU and the EAC – then Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania – completed discussions for an economic partnership deal in 2014, but only Nairobi ratified it. Kenya went its own way, but Dombrovskis said the accord remained open for other EAC countries to join, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.


Gabriel Eleojo Umoru
Gabriel Eleojo Umoru
I'm Gabriel Eleojo Umoru, a graduate of Mass Communication from Prince Abubakar Audu University (formerly Kogi State University Anyigba, Kogi State). My hobbies include writing, surfing the internet and listening to music. I'm into voice editing and project management. I also help people out in their research projects.

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