The meeting for the joint EAC – EU Ministerial meeting is kicked off on January 27, 2014 and will end on January 31, 2014 in Brussels, Belgium.
Many chapters of the future agreement have already been completed, including facilitation of customs procedures, food hygiene matters, technical barriers to trade and development co-operation. During the latest negotiating round in Arusha (Tanzania) in July 2013, negotiators agreed to refer to Ministers for political guidance.
The is need to speed up the process of the negotiations since there are grave risks that are facing the flower industry and Kenya at large if the agreement is not signed by October 2014. Currently Kenya enjoys quota free and duty free export of flowers to EU and without the EPA, GSP tariffs will be applied. As a result, Kenya will not be able to compete on price and market share will be lost. Countries like Colombia, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia will continue to enjoy their duty free status, after October 1, 2014.
The Kenya Flower Council Chief Executive Mrs. Jane Ngige is part of the delegation attending the meeting.
The East African Community – bringing together the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Republic of Uganda – is one of the seven regional groupings that have been involved in the negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU. The EPA negotiations are based on the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000 between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and aim to put in place a long-term economic partnership centred on the development of the EU’s partner countries. This includes duty free, quota free access to EU market, along with other provisions (e.g. on health and hygiene standards, and other trade-related rules) tailored to the needs of the ACP countries.
In 2007 EAC countries and the EU closed negotiations on an interim (framework) EPA covering mainly trade in goods which EAC declined to sign. The agreement currently being negotiated is a regional EPA aiming to establish a stable and sustainable economic partnership based on reciprocal but asymmetrical trade liberalization that takes account of the development needs of the EU’s EAC partners.