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The EU and Kenya today signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to boost bilateral trade in goods, increase investment flows, and contribute to sustainable economic growth.

The agreement will now be transmitted to the European Parliament for consent, and, once agreement is reached, it will subsequently enter into force.

The EPA provides a platform to support job creation on both sides, along with targeted cooperation to enhance Kenya’s economic development. It is the most ambitious trade deal ever signed by the EU with a developing country when it comes to sustainability provisions such as climate and environmental protection, labour rights and gender equality.

The signature took place during an official ceremony in Nairobi with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Kenyan President William Samoei Ruto.

The EU is Kenya’s first export destination and second largest trading partner, with a total of €3.3 billion in bilateral trade in 2022 – an increase of 27 per cent compared to 2018. The EPA will create “even more opportunities for Kenyan businesses and exporters, as it will fully open the EU market for Kenyan products upon entry into force. It will also incentivise EU investment in Kenya thanks to increased legal certainty and stability,” the European Commission said in a statement following Monday’s signing.

Kenya has played a pioneering role in driving sustainability efforts on the African continent and “is a reliable ally in the fight against climate change”.

It co-leads the Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate initiative launched earlier this year, together with the EU and other partners. The EU-Kenya EPA builds on this strong track record and is the first agreement with a developing country in which the EU’s new approach to trade and sustainable development is reflected.

The “balanced” agreement takes into account Kenya’s development needs by providing a longer period to gradually open its market. It also includes a special safeguard for agriculture, food security and infant industry. A dedicated chapter has been included on economic and development cooperation, aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the Kenyan economy. Together with EU development assistance, this will help build capacity and assist Kenya in implementing the EPA smoothly, while supporting local farmers in meeting EU standards and in reaping the opportunities this agreement provides.

The agreement corresponds to the Commission’s commitment to step up engagement with partners and regions in Africa. The aim is to enhance sustainable trade links between both continents and within Africa itself, thereby meeting key objectives for both the EU-Africa relationship and the green transition.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Kenya is a key partner for the European Union in Africa. The new Economic Partnership Agreement will boost bilateral trade even further, support investments and create good jobs in Kenya. This agreement will also contribute to sustainable and fair economic growth, bringing new opportunities for companies, to the benefit of both our people. It includes the strongest social and climate commitments of any EU trade deal with an African country.”

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