Workshop on current and emerging trade issues for Kenya – Nairobi, 20 March 2019
While in Nairobi for the 2019 Annual Conference, tralac and the Export Promotion Council co-hosted a workshop on 20 March 2019 in Nairobi on current and emerging trade issues for Kenya.
85 people attended the workshop, with participants representing various Ministries, the Kenyan Manufacturers Association, the Export Promotion Council, the private sector, academia, civil society organisations and the media.
Peter Biwott of the EPC opened the half-day workshop encouraging participants to engage on the issues to be discussed, including the US’ African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), climate change and regional integration.
Eckart Naumann, tralac Associate, provided an overview of Kenya’s trade relationship with the United States and the impact of AGOA. This included a review of the direction and structure of Kenya’s international trade, focusing on trade with the United States, and illustrating the extent of market preferences that Kenya enjoys when exporting to the US. Find out more in the Brochure on AGOA performance and country profile of Kenya.
Henry Mutai and Gerhard Erasmus, tralac Associates, discussed the impact and uncertainties of Brexit. Professor Erasmus and Dr Mutai noted that the current arrangement under the East Africa Community (EAC) and European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) was provisional as Kenya is the only EAC country to have signed and ratified. As such, a continuity agreement with the United Kingdom (UK) will depend on the political will of the UK government. The presenters also noted that continuity agreements will only be the first phase, with further agreements in the future – which will come with their own complexities.
Patrick Low, Visiting Professor at the University of Hong Kong, gave a compelling presentation on the importance of climate change, updating the participants on the science, economics, ethics and state of play at the global political level. Professor Low conveyed a strong message that governments, especially those most significant emitters, including the US, China and the EU must do something.
Trudi Hartzenberg, tralac Executive Director, and Gerhard Erasmus wrapped up the workshop with a discussion of regional integration initiatives: the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) and the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The presenters gave an overview of the agreements, and discussed some of the problems, in particular, the issues with ratifying incomplete agreements and the failure of the agreements to mitigate the challenges of overlapping membership.
In conclusion, the presenters emphasised the continuing importance of regional economic communities, and while hoping for these new trade areas to be effective, advocating for a sober assessment of the realities and a close look at what has actually been committed.