The European Union and the Republic of Kenya launch strategic dialogue and engage towards implementing the East African Community Economic Partnership Agreement

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The European Commission welcomes the launching of the Strategic Dialogue between the European Union and the Republic of Kenya, agreed on 21 June 2021, and the strengthening of multilateral partnership between EU and the East African Community (EAC) region. Both sides agreed to engage towards implementing bilaterally the trade and the economic and development cooperation provisions of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the East African Community

Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis said: “I welcome Kenya’s efforts and leadership in the region. It is one of EU’s most important trade partners in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Chair of the East Africa Community. The recent decision of the EAC Summit allows EAC Members to implement the regional EPA bilaterally with the EU, based on a principle of ‘variable geometry’. The EU will now engage with Kenya – which has already signed and ratified the regional EPA – on the modalities towards its implementation. The EPA is an important trade and development tool and its implementation with Kenya would be a building block towards regional economic integration. We encourage other Members of the East African Community to sign and ratify the EPA.”

Commissioner for International Partnership Jutta Urpilainen welcomed the positive discussions, adding: “I welcome the new impetus to the EU-Kenya bilateral relationship with agreement on the launch of the strategic dialogue together with a renewed engagement with the East African Community. This will create a dialogue focusing on common policy aims and real benefits for all involved. We will immediately begin work on a roadmap to implement the strategic dialogue. We are committed to accompany the country’s ambitious green transition, job creation and digitalisation efforts. In addition, investing in People, in education or health, will be paramount to build resilience and help tackle Covid19 challenges and we are working intensively on Team Europe initiatives to support Small and Medium Enterprises and pharmaceutical industries in Africa to complement the efforts at country level.

In the context of the visit of President of the Republic of Kenya, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis has met Mr Adan Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for East African Community and Regional Development. In parallel, Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, exchanged with Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Raychelle Omamo. The high-level political visit marked the stepping up of EU-Kenya bilateral relationship.

The Commission has immediately begun work on a roadmap to ensure a swift implementation of the Dialogue which will strengthen EU and Kenya’s regional and multilateral cooperation; democracy, governance and human rights, including gender equality; peace, security and stability; trade and investment; social development; climate change and the green transition; and the digital agenda, among others.

In parallel, discussions were initiated to strengthen the EU-East African Community economic partnership and both sides agreed to engage towards implementing bilaterally the trade and the economic and development cooperation provisions of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the East African Community (EAC). The negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement were concluded in 2014 but Agreement are still pending signature and ratification by all East African Community Members.

Background

Kenya and the European Union have sustained a consistent and long-term partnership over many years, and share multilateral and global aims such as combating climate change, and fostering peace and security. Kenya and the European Union share a commitment to democracy, the rule of law and human rights, which are the basis for the strong relations. 

The Strategic Dialogue between Kenya and the European Union was launched on the occasion of the meeting between H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, C.G.H., President of the Republic of Kenya, and H.E. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, held on 21 June 2021 in Brussels. A Roadmap for the implementation of this Strategic Dialogue is to be set out by the relevant services of Kenya and the European Union. The policy discussions and outcomes of the Strategic Dialogue will inform potential European Union support to actions agreed with the Government of Kenya.

The EU finalised the negotiations on the regional Economic Partnership Agreement with five countries (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) of the East African Community in October 2014. However, its implementation is pending because it has not been signed and ratified by all EAC States. Kenya is the only EAC country, which signed and subsequently ratified the EPA in September 2016. Yet, the Agreement foresees that the signature and ratification of all EAC countries is required for its entry into force. The conclusion and ratification of the EPA on the EU side has been paused, pending EPA’s signature and ratification by all EAC Members. To unblock the situation, at the Summit of 27 February 2021, the EAC states reached a political agreement to allow for the implementation of the EPA between the EU and individual countries of the EAC (referred to in the Summit’s Communique as ‘variable geometry’).

The EU-EAC EPA includes provisions related to liberalisation of trade in goods (including agriculture and fishery products), trade-related rules (sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, technical barriers to trade and customs and trade facilitation) as well as an economic and development cooperation chapter to supports its implementation, and commitments relating to regional integration.

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