Kenya-EU Historic Bilateral Trade Deal Ignites Questions about EAC Unity


The EU and Kenya have announced on Monday the political conclusion of the negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Image from Public Domain

Kenya and the European Union (EU) on Monday June 19th, signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) aimed at enhancing trade relations and promoting economic growth between the two regions. The agreement, once ratified and entered into force, will guarantee duty-free access for Kenya’s farm produce into the EU market.

Proponents of the EPA emphasize the potential economic benefits it can bring to Kenya. The agreement is expected to boost sustainable economic growth, attract foreign investment, and create jobs. The joint statement by both governments claims that the agreement will strengthen ties between Kenyan and European businesses, including Micro-, Small-, and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs), offering them new avenues for global trade.

However, the agreement has not been without its critics. Among the disgruntled voices is Ibrahim Salifou, CEO of Livingstone Corporate Finance Advisory (LCFA), who rubbished the deal in a passionate post on LinkedIn saying: “A very bad move for Kenya and for the entire EAC.”

The consultant for African governments and Corporates is among those who have express concerns about the potential impact on regional unity within the EAC. Questions have been raised regarding the absence of the other EAC member states’ official reactions, and the Tanzanian government’s previous statement indicating support only if the agreement benefits the entire EAC.

In a passionate social media rant , Salifou stated “So far, they have been silent, but the deal – the most comprehensive agreement that Kenya has ever negotiated with the EU, locking in both sides for 25 years – seems to fly in the face of the position of at least the Tanzanian government.” Mr. Salifou further argued that Kenya may be prioritizing its individual interests over the regional trading bloc. “I said it many times, we lay down institutions for others to profit .I don’t see any gain for the region…Has the region’s economic powerhouse undermined that unity or did it have little choice but to go it alone?”

Furthermore, he indicated potential legal challenges to the EPA, with a powerful lobby group expressing readiness to take the matter to court. “I am confident with the move of the powerful lobby group ready to take Ruto’s government to court…Be ready to be challenged at a court of law for the second time after you have failed the first one,” fumed Salifou. These challenges, if true, may further complicate the implementation of the agreement and require careful consideration and resolution.

As Kenya and the EU move forward with the EPA, it is expected that the agreement will bring new opportunities for trade, economic growth, and cooperation between the two regions. The coming months will be crucial for addressing concerns, ensuring inclusivity, and delivering on the shared vision of a mutually beneficial partnership that promotes sustainable development and enhances the well-being of both Kenyan and European citizens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *