By LUKE ANAMI

Kenya has unveiled the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) Council in a bid to facilitate trade with the UK.

The current EPA covers trade in goods and development cooperation.

Kenya’s principal secretary for industrialization, trade and business development, Johnson Weru, said the council and a committee of senior officials will seek to expand trade between the two partners to include trade in services and will also address competition policy and intellectual property rights.

“We want to see our doctors, lawyers, engineers and others provide services under the agreement,” Weru said.

Board members from various departments will provide leadership and oversee the operation, implementation and expansion of the EPA.

The British High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriott, welcomed the plan, noting that a financial services agreement was in place. The Nairobi International Financial Center already has a key client, British underwriter Prudential, which has chosen Nairobi as its African headquarters.

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Ms. Marriot said the EPA could be extended to the East African Community once the region concludes negotiations.

The UK government is also supporting easy access to the Port of Mombasa and throughout the EAC.

“The UK has invested more than Ksh5 billion ($44 million) in the port of Mombasa to help reduce turnaround times from 12 days to three days to ensure that goods enter the port quickly. Kenya and come out of it faster,” Ms. Marriott said. “And that’s really important for the UK because a lot of British food, vegetables and flowers come from Kenya.”

The UK, between 2015 and 2020, ranked among Kenya’s top five export destinations. It is also the largest investor in Kenya, with investments valued at over £3 billion in 2020.

“Since the signing of the EPA a year ago, the balance of trade is currently in favor of Kenya,” Ms. Marriott said.

Provisional data up to November 2021 indicates that Kenya exported goods worth Ksh 45.2 billion ($397.7 million) to the UK while imports from the UK amounted to Ksh 30.2 billion ($265.7 million).

There is also significant trade in services between the two countries, bringing total trade to well over £1.65 billion ($2.2 billion) in 2020.

The annual value of exports to the UK was Ksh 39 billion ($343.4 million), mainly flowers, coffee, tea, fruits, vegetables and textiles.