MPs set stage for enforcement of UK trade after ratifying it

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Parliament during a past session. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Parliament on Tuesday evening ratified the Kenya-United Kingdom trade deal, setting the stage for free access of local products to the European nation.

Approval of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) will see the 10 per cent duty Kenya charges on intermediate goods start reducing after seven years, resulting in its abolishment eight years later.

The country will, on the other hand, start phasing down the duty on finished products (currently billed from 25 per cent) after 12 years, leading to its elimination 13 years later.

MPs had initially delayed debate on the trade deal and sought more details, with a section protesting a clause that bars them from amending or expressing reservations on the pact, although protocols for such deals do not give parliaments powers to introduce changes to trade deals at the ratification stage.

Their counterparts in the UK endorsed the deal last Thursday after completing scrutiny of the document.

The ratification of the trade deal will now see import duty on 82.6 per cent of products originating from the UK abolished after 25 years.

National Assembly Trade Committee chairman Adan Haji said that the agreement will support Kenyans working in various economic sectors by maintaining tariff-free market access to the UK.

“The Kenya-UK EPA will not only benefit our farmers but also largely shield our economy from losing the over Sh40 billion market in the UK,” Mr Haji said on Tuesday evening as he called on Parliament to approve the deal.

The session was also attended by Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina and Principal Secretary Jonson Weru.

Nairobi signed the strategic agreement with London on behalf of the six-nation East African Community (EAC) on December 8, preserving duty- and quota-free access for exports to the UK after the latter left the 27-member European Union bloc on December 31.

The rest of the EAC states – whose exports are shielded from tariffs because they are Least-Developed Countries (LDCs) – sat out of the negotiations with the UK.