By Ebi Kesiena
Kenya and the European Union (EU) on Monday signed a trade deal which seeks to raise the flow of goods between the two markets, President William Ruto said, as Brussels brokers new ground for stronger economic ties with the African continent.
The Economic Partnership Agreement will give Kenya duty-free and quota-free access to the EU, its biggest export market, while European goods will receive progressive tariff reductions.
“Although today represents a moment of monumental promise, it is also the beginning of a historic partnership for historic transformation,” Ruto said at a ceremony marking the official signing of the deal attended by European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
“The core of this arrangement is to put real money into the pockets of ordinary people,” Ruto said further.
The President of EU Commission, von der Leyen said the partnership was a “win-win situation on both sides” and called on other East African nations to join the pact, which came after years of negotiations that concluded in June.
“We are opening a new chapter in our very strong relationship and now our effort should be focused on implementation,” she said.
Both the Kenyan and the European parliaments must ratify the deal before it comes into force.
The European Council said last week that the deal was “the most ambitious economic partnership” it had with a developing country.
It includes commitments to sustainable development in areas such as labour rights and environmental protection, the council said in a statement.