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The East African : Dec 29th 2014
12 CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR EXPORTERS Kenya regains preferential access to EU markets in time for Valentine’s Ag≥icultu≥al expo≥ts ente≥ing the EU f≥om Decembe≥ 25 will not be subjected to taxes that had been in place since Octobe≥ 1 By JEFF OTIENO The EastAfrican K enya will now export its horticultural products to the European Union tax-free, ending an 11-week wait for the reinstatement to the regime under the EU’s Market Access Regulation. Agricultural exports entering the EU from December 25 will not be subjected to taxes that had been in place since October 1; the European Union Parliament and the European Commission fasttracked Kenya’s return to the privileged regime. “I am very happy to confirm that, as of Christmas Day, Kenyan goods — cut flowers, fresh produce and much more — will once again enter the European Union market without tariffs or quota limits,” said EU ambassador to Kenya Lodewijk Briet. At the end of October, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta made a plea to the then EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht to fast-track Kenya’s return to the quota-free, duty-free export regime. Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) by the September 30, 2014, deadline. Though the two trade blocs reached an agreement on October 16, 2014, it was too late to stop Kenya’s exports from being moved to the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) regime from the duty-free regime of the Market Access Regulation (MAR). The GSP, unlike the MAR, attracts taxes on products imported into the EU. “This decision is a huge relief to Kenya’s floriculture sector and for all operators and businesses involved in the trade both in Kenya and in the EU, especially in view of the approaching peak sale season on Valentine’s Day,” Kenya Flower Council CEO Jane Ngige said. The decision to allow Kenya’s products into the EU duty-free was published in the official journal of the Commission’s delegated regulations. It advised the Customs departments in the EU and operators that the dutyfree status of Kenya flower and horticulture imports to the EU had been reinstated. Investors in the horticulture sector had been waiting anxiously for the European Council and the European Parliament to give the green light for the implementation of the agreement, as further delay would have crippled the country’s horticulture sector. The decision will save the $537m The amount Kenya makes from flower exports to the EU annually Two weeks later, the European Commission agreed that Kenyan exports should be exempted from all import duties, allowing the European Parliament and the Council to accelerate approval procedures of the Commission’s decision. Ordinarily, the process takes four months but in the case of Kenya it took just six weeks. The completion of the process is a relief for Kenya’s horticultural exporters who have had to bear the burden of import duties of between 5 per cent and 8.5 per cent since October. The duties were imposed after the EAC and the EU failed to finalise an country from paying about $1.12 million a year in export duties for cut flowers and other horticultural produce sent to Europe. The government had estimated that the industry would lose $92 million a year due to Kenya’s products becoming less competitive in the market. Kenya exports flowers to the EU worth Ksh46.3 billion ($537 million) and vegetables worth more than Ksh26.5 billion ($307 million) annually, making the horticultural sector one of the most important contributors of foreign exchange. The country uses the forex to buy capital goods, petroleum and other necessities. The EU buys about 40 per cent of Kenya’s fresh produce exports, making it one of the country’s top export markets. The horticulture industry has created job opportunities for close to 90,000 Kenyans employed directly, and a further 1.5 million people employed in the ancillary service sectors. Ms Ngige said flower exporters had to absorb the additional costs associated with duties The EastAfrican NEWS DECEMBER 27, 2014 - JANUARY 2, 2015 Youths ≥iot as 30 die in Congo ≥ive≥ boat accident By A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT AFP AT LEAST 30 people died when an overcrowded boat hit a rock and sank in the Congo river, sparking riots in which angry youths on the rampage set fire to public buildings, officials said Friday. “There are 105 survivors and we have pulled up 30 bodies. The search is continuing,” provincial government spokesman Monulphe Bosso told AFP. The accident occurred when an overcrowded boat hit a rock and sank on Monday near the village of Yakusu II, some 35 kilometres north of the eastern provincial capital of Kisangani. “At its departure, in Kisangani, the boat took on 39 people according to the register handed over to the authorities. Perhaps they were trying to cheat river surveillance services as they took more passengers on board along the way,” Mr Bosso said. “They took on board many more people. The boat was carrying a lot of goods and was also crowded with people. They hit a rock and it sank,” he added. On the rampage A government delegation was heading for the town of Isangi on Friday, the vessel’s scheduled destination, where rioting youngsters went on the rampage on Thursday. “They set fire to the offices of the Exhibitors at the International Flower Trade Expo at Oshwal Centre in Nairobi. Kenyan flowers can enter the EU market once again without tariffs or quots limits. Picture: File TRADE AGREEMENT Economic Partnership Agreements are trade and development agreements negotiated between EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific regions, aimed at strengthening integration. Negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement between to safeguard jobs and capital investment, and also to keep the products competitive in the EU market, adding that the decision was one of the most difficult for investors. Kenya was the only EAC member affected by the delay in signing the EPA agreement, since it is the only country in the bloc that does not fall into the category of least developed countries (LDCs). LDC countries’ agricultural products access the EU market duty free, with or without an EPA agreement. Kenya needs an EPA to export its products duty-free and quota-free the EAC and the EU started in 2007, with the initialing of the framework on November 27 of that year. Unfortunately, the two blocs failed to agree on sections of the framework, leading to the postponement of the deadline several times. to the EU market. The MAR is a transitory arrangement that offers such preferences to EU partners in anticipation of the ratification of an EPA. The Union Fleurs and the Kenya Flower Council said they hoped that the spirit of co-operation between the EU and Kenya will be maintained to finalise the EPA ratification process before 2016. The chairman of the Kenya Flower Council, Richard Fox, said shipments will have to be supported by an EUR1 certificate of origin in order to benefit from duty-free Customs clearance into the EU. Uganda Police divers search for bodies of DRC refugees of a boat disaster on Lake Albert on March 23. Picture:File river police and the naval force. They’re youngsters angered by the loss of their relatives; they say people are not rigorous enough” about making sure safety conditions are complied with, Bosso added. Shipping disasters occur frequently, leaving many dead on the lakes and rivers of the Democratic Republic of Congo due to overcrowding on old and poorly maintained vessels, a lack of lifejackets and the fact that many people do not know how to swim. At least 129 people died in December when an overcrowded boat went down in Lake Tanganyika, and in March a shipwreck on Lake Albert left 210 dead and missing.
Dec 22nd 2014
Jan 5th 2015