May assures Kenya of duty-free, quota-free access after Brexit

Prime_Minister_Theresa_May
UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

The United Kingdom has committed to retaining an existing duty-free and quota-free arrangement for Kenyan imports to the country after exiting the European Union in March next year.

Speaking during a joint media briefing with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House on Thursday, Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK was keen on a smooth post-Brexit transition that will ensure stability for both countries.

The balance of trade between the two nations is currently in favour of Kenya whose exports to the UK in 2017 were estimated to be worth Sh38 billion.

UK exported to Kenya goods worth Sh27.3 billion during the same period.

“As Britain prepares to leave the European Union, we’re committed to a smooth transition that ensures continuity in our trading relationship with Kenya, ensuring Kenya retains its duty-free and quota-free access to the UK market,” May said.

“We wish to build our strong trade an investment ties to create even more opportunities for our businesses and consumers,” she added.
President Kenyatta welcomed the commitment saying Kenya was focused on enhancing existing trade agreement with the UK for the benefit of both nations.

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s assurance that the current duty-free and quota-free for Kenyan exports will continue after Brexit. Kenya will be pressing for an increased in exports on the basis of a fair market arraignment with a view of a mutual win-win arrangement,” he said.

Pledging to support Kenya’s development program, May said the UK would align its expertise, investments, and aid programs with the Big Four agenda.

The UK is already the largest investor in Kenya and I have set out this week our ambition to be the G7’s largest investor in Africa by 2022,” she said.

Kenyatta and May had prior to their media briefing held bilateral talks which culminated into the signing of a new pact to facilitate the repatriation of proceeds of corruption and economic crimes.

Kenyatta lauded the signing saying it would greatly boost the ongoing campaign against corruption.

“Fighting corruption is an important aspect of my legacy programme together with the unity of the country and the attainment of our Big Four centered on investment in housing, manufacturing, food security, and universal health,” he said.

“Depriving people of the proceeds of crime is one major detriment against this vice and we’re determined to make it painfully unrewarding and expensive to get involved in corruption in Kenya,” President Kenyatta pointed out.

The two also signed a security agreement that will see Kenyan security agencies benefit from a robust capability building programme.

In addition, May promised to soon authorise a new funding deal for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops in Somalia as it seeks to support Kenya in the fight against terrorism.

“The UK continues to support the commitment of brave Kenyan soldiers fighting in Somalia against the Al-Shabaab and I’ll announce a new package of funding to support the AMISOM,” May said.

May accepted President Kenyatta’s call for a transition from AMISOM to Somali security forces saying the UK shared a similar ambition.

“We also want a transition to stronger Somali security forces. As we work towards this, we’re leading international efforts to ensure that AMISOM has the funding it needs to support its vital battle against terror,” she said.

May who has been on a maiden tour of the African continent that has seen her visit South Africa and Nigeria arrived at the State House at 11.15am.

She was accorded a 19-gun salute in addition to a guard of honour mounted by the Kenya Air Force at the onset of her day-long visit, the first by a UK premier in three decades.

Deputy President William Ruto and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma were among members of the cabinet that joined President Kenyatta in bilateral talks with May.

Other Cabinet Secretaries present were Raychelle Omamo (Defence), Henry Rotich (Treasury), Fred Matiangi (Interior), Margaret Kobia (Public Service), Farida Karoney (Lands), John Munyes, (Petroleum), Najib Balala (Tourism), Amina Mohamed (Education), and Attorney General Paul Kihara.

Former State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu who is Kenya’s ambassador-designate to the UK was also present.