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Why Ratification on UK-Kenya Trade Deal was delayed

British legislators have extended the scrutiny period for the UK-Kenya trade deal by 21 sitting days. The International Agreements Committee called for the government to extend the scrutiny period, during which the government will explain other options considered in ensuring continuity of trade between Kenya and the UK, beside the UK-Kenya Trade Deal.

“Lord Goldsmith to move to resolve that this House calls upon Her Majesty’s Government, in accordance with section 21 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, to extend the scrutiny period for the Agreement establishing an Economic Partnership Agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the one part, and the Republic of Kenya, a Member of the East African Community, of the other part, laid before the House on December 17 2020, by 21 sitting days, reads a motion for a resolution of the trade treaty.

“We are happy to report that after extensive consultations with a team of members of parliament this morning, the UK Kenya Free Trade Agreement which has been tabled on the Order Paper for ratification this afternoon has been dropped. The Speaker of the National Assembly has ordered the Departmental Committee on Trade, Industry and Cooperatives to table a supplementary report.

The question of whether public participation as required under the Treaty-Making and Ratification Act was also explored and it was observed that it could not have been sufficient if all the documents were not availed to the public.

This is only the first round of victory but we stand ready to engage in the process until a reasonable conclusion is arrived at,” reacted Edgar Odari, Executive Director Econews Africa.

The committee also requires the government to explain its decision not to replicate EU’s Market Access Regulation (MAR).
A report by the parliamentary committee shows concerns regarding how the Agreement will shape political and economic relationships between Kenya and other East African Community members. The report notes that other EAC members are yet to support the UK-Kenya trade deal, pushing for renegotiations as a trading bloc.

Further, some civil society organizations posit that the trade deal could undermine regional integration and disrupt regional trade. For instance, terms of the UK-Kenya trade agreement could undermine the EAC 16-year-old EAC custom union which applies zero custom duties on good and services within the bloc, and charges a common external tariff on imports from countries outside the EAC.

“This difference in tariffs applied to UK goods exported to Kenya, as opposed to the other EAC countries, could result in increased border checks and other barriers between Kenya and other EAC members,” the report further adds.

The two countries signed the UK-Kenya trade deal in December 2020, provisionally applying the Agreement from January 1 2021, awaiting full force once both parties ratify the deal.

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