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Delay in EPAs pact to hit local exporters hard

Local exporters may pay export duties of between five and 22 per cent to the European Union if the bloc’s Parliament fails to honour a plea by Kenya to be allowed to continue to have duty-free, quota-free access to the market, unless the East Africa Community sign the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) by October 1.

Trade PS Chris Kiptoo yesterday told the People Daily that while it awaits for feedback from EU, it will continue operating under the resolutions passed last week at the EAC Heads of State Summit in Tanzania which asked the EU to give the region a three-month extension to allow for further discussions.

“We are working hard to ensure we are not removed from the market access rule 1528 which has an annex of 27 members of Africa Caribbean and Pacific, which are considered to be developing countries,” Kiptoo said.

“If we are removed, we will move to a new regime of trading called General Systems Preferences (GSP) which attract duty from five to 22 per cent while the rest of our brothers in the East Africa region will be trading under a regime called ‘everything but arms’,” said the PS.

He said Kenya is working with the EU Parliament to ensure it is not affected in case some of the EAC members fail to sign and ratify their part of the EPAs pact.

“Last month we presented our case and are confident the European Parliament listened to us. Meanwhile, we are working towards meeting our obligations before the deadline. In the same breath, we are also guided by the EAC talks at the Heads of State Summit in Tanzania,” he said.

Part of the obligation from the Kenyan government is to ratify the final version of the EPAs which was signed by the government on September 1 in Brussels. The government has sent the document to the National Assembly for ratification.

The Speaker of the National Assembly has organised for a special sitting on September 20 to consider the proposal to approve the ratification of the agreement. “We signed the document in Brussels to demonstrate our commitment we are ready to go but remember the EPAs will not be implemented until all the partners in the EAC have signed and ratified their treaties also,” said Kiptoo.

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