MEPs green light bolstering trade ties with Kenya 

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On Thursday, MEPs voted to approve the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreement with Kenya, East Africa's main economic hub.

MEPs voted by 366 in favour, 86 against and 56 abstentions to give their consent to the EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that aims to strengthen trade and economic ties with the African country. It is the first agreement with a developing country in which the EU's new approach to trade and sustainable development is reflected.

The agreement includes binding and enforceable provisions on international standards and agreements on labour, gender equality, climate and the environment, and prevents both parties from lowering labour and environmental standards. The trade and sustainable development clauses, which are new compared to the EU-East African Community EPA, will be binding: possible issues will be addressed through a dedicated dispute resolution mechanism.

The EU is Kenya’s second largest trading partner, and its most important export market. Total trade between the EU and Kenya reached €3.3 billion in 2022, according to Commission data. The EU’s imports from Kenya amount to €1.2 billion and are mainly vegetables, fruits, and flowers. EU’s exports amount to €2.02 billion and are mainly in mineral and chemical products and in machinery.


Alessandra Mussolini (EPP, IT), rapporteur for the file said: “This agreement it's a catalyst for economic growth, job creation and sustainable development. It will provide duty-free, quota-free EU market access to all exports from Kenya as soon as it enters into force, as well as partial and gradual opening of the Kenyan market to imports from the EU. Kenya is the by far most important trading partner of the EU among the EAC partner countries, representing nearly half of EU imports from the EAC and more than half of its exports to the EAC. By promoting trade and investment, the EPA contributes to economic growth and development in Kenya. Increased exports and investments can lead to job creation, income generation, and overall improvement in living standards.”

Next steps

Council needs to give its final formal approval to the agreement for the ratification process to complete on the EU side.


Kenya is the ninth largest economy of the African continent and is East Africa's main economic hub. The EU-Kenya EPA aims to implement the provisions the EU-East African Community (EAC) Economic Partnership Agreement that was concluded in 2014. The implementation of the EAC EPA has not been possible because not all EAC partner countries ratified it. The EAC in 2021 agreed to allow individual states to proceed with bilateral implementation. Except for Kenya, all EAC partner states are least developed countries, and still enjoy duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market. Kenya, a lower-middle income country, moved forward with ratification in order not to lose free access to the EU market. Subsequently, EU-Kenya negotiations on bilateral implementation were concluded in 2023. Other EAC countries can decide to join the agreement.