Kenya and Burundi are set to sign an agreement that will see them sell agricultural products to Europe duty-free. The deal will be signed next week after a Sectoral Council of Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment by the region’s countries.
A meeting of ministers responsible for East African affairs met on June 30 and proposed the agreement be signed on July 18. All four partner states, except Tanzania, agreed to sign the agreement. The decision by Tanzania not to sign the deal leaves the region, and specifically Kenya, at a great risk of losing revenue when exporting goods to the European Union.
“In the event we fail to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs) as a bloc, all EAC partner states stand to lose generous market access terms negotiated under the EU market,” said Deputy President William Ruto. Ruto, who spoke after meeting Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza in Bujumbura Tuesday, termed the deal a chance to increase trade.
Tanzania’s decision means Kenya’s exports to the EU – mainly flowers and vegetables – will attract tax. Kenya exports produce worth Sh120 billion to the EU market. During the meeting in Bujumbura, Ruto and Nkurunziza also called for a ceasefire in South Sudan. They said the violence should be addressed immediately. They also said there is need for Amisom to be strengthened. Burundi has contributed over 5,000 soldier to Amisom. Kenya too has sent troops to Somalia.