Kenya’s economic partnership deal with U.K. under sharp scrutiny
Kenya’s recently concluded economic partnership agreement with the United Kingdom has come under sharp scrutiny with observers warning of a backdoor route for the UK to exploit the deal to its favor.
According to an analysis of the trade pact by EcoNews Africa non-profit research and advocacy group, the creation of more room for negotiations after the ratification of the deal by Parliament could water down current trade terms in favor of the more powerful UK.
“The agreement allows for negotiations on investment, intellectual property rights and competition for up to six years after ratification. This is something the US, the EU and UK have tried to push to developing countries at a multi-lateral level without success. The UK is now using the bi-lateral agreement as backdoor to enter the same agreements,” warned EcoNews Africa Executive Director Edgar Odari.
Kiambu Town Member of Parliament and the Chairperson to the Parliamentary Caucus on Economy and Business Jude Njomo has echoed similar remarks as he also warns of the loss of Parliament’s oversight role over the Kenya-UK trade pact.
“Every treaty we sign as a country should come to Parliament for ratification but then should the deal be opened again for negotiations, this means that this changes do not have to come through Parliament again. This would be a shortcut in avoiding oversight in treaty making and I think this is not the way to go,” he said.
On Monday, EcoNews Africa alongside the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum moved to court seeking interpretation on whether the pact had been subject to a full-proof public participation process before its adoption by Parliament.
Additionally, the pair have challenged part of the deal’s provisions including the gradual reduction of tariffs on part of agricultural goods including maize, pork and chicken.
Moreover, the suit filed in the Human Rights division argues against the removal of export taxes on leather and macadamia nuts with current tariffs serving to obligate producers to seek value addition for their product.
Presently, the deal is subject to the review of the National Assembly Trade and Industrialization Committee which is meeting various stakeholders including the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) before presenting its findings to the house.
Last week, the National Assembly pushed its motion to ratify the deal after the non-disclosure of key annexes contained in the deal.
Nevertheless, the Ministry of Trade has moved to alleviate fears over the deal’s impact on the economy insisting Kenya stands to make key gains upon the ratification of the deal.
“There will be a progression of tariff reduction for 25 years to zero and even after the period, if it becomes apparent that there maybe some surge, you actually have potential during the points of revision to make a review,” Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina said on Friday.
The new Kenya-UK trade pact was reached in December ahead of Britain’s exit from the European Union at the end of 2020.