Kenyan exporters to access EU duty free

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 24 – Kenyan exporters have a reason to smile after the European Union(EU) on Wednesday announced the return of duty free access for Kenyan exports to the EU market.

In a statement, the EU Kenyan delegation said from Thursday “December 25, 2014, Kenyan exports will once again enter the European market without any tariffs.”

EU Ambassador to Kenya Lodewijk Briët who terms the announcement as ‘Christmas gift’ to Kenyan exporters says on November 14 the European Commission decided that Kenyan exports should again be exempted from all import duties on the basis of the ‘Market Access Regulation’ (MAR).

“The European Union (EU) has heeded the appeal made at the end of October by H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta to the then EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and has fast-tracked Kenyas return to the quota-free, duty-free export regime,”Briët revealed.

Kenyan goods including, cut flowers, fresh produce and much more will once again enter the European Union market without tariffs or quota limits.

Over Sh200 million worth of goods enter the EU market from Kenya.

Three areas that remained outstanding and which delayed the finalisation of the talks for the better part of 2014 included export taxes, export subsidies and relationship between Cotonou agreement and EPAs.

The deal between Kenya and EU was signed on October 14, but had to wait for EU ratification to conclude.

Kenya had all along benefited from unlimited and free access to the EU market until the expiry of the Market Access regulation at the end of September this year.

Since then, Kenyan exports to the EU have been subject to the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) that required the payment of import duties despite the deal being signed in October.

But Briet says this is now in the past after the announcement.

“This is good for Kenyan business and Kenyan jobs, and a sign of our strong partnership for growth,” he says.

Kenya is the only member of the East African Community (EAC) that does not fall into the category of Least Developed Countries (LDC).

As such, it needs an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to export its products duty-free, quota-free to the EU market.

The ‘Market Access Regulation’ is a transitory arrangement that offers such preferences to EU partners in anticipation of the ratification of the EPA.