This Is How Kenya Can Tap Into the European Union’s $16 Trillion Market

On Sun­day, Octo­ber 29th, the G7 Trade Min­is­ters met in Osa­ka, Japan. Infor­mal bilat­er­al meet­ings pre­ced­ed the high lev­el min­is­te­r­i­al meet­ings. I was espe­cial­ly keen on the out­come of a bilat­er­al meet­ing between the Trade Min­is­ters of Aus­tralia and the Euro­pean Union (EU). It sought to secure a free trade agree­ment between the two blocs, for bet­ter access of Aus­tralian meat and pro­tec­tions for con­ti­nen­tal goods. By Mon­day Octo­ber 30th, it became clear that infor­mal talks between the two par­ties had stalled. Aus­tralians felt that the deal on the table wasn’t guar­an­tee­ing them greater Euro­pean mar­ket access for Aus­tralian beef and sheep meat products.

Such is the tact and fore­sight required in inter­na­tion­al trade agree­ments, espe­cial­ly with the EU.

Aus­tralia is report­ed­ly one of the top beef exporters in the world. In 2019, it was the world’s most valu­able beef exporter, with total exports gen­er­at­ing US$7.5 bil­lion. Three years lat­er in 2022, its beef exports totaled $13.12 bil­lion. For com­par­isons sake, Kenya’s tea exports in 2022 were recount­ed as $1.07 bil­lion. Remem­ber, Kenya is the world’s largest black tea exporter, so no oth­er coun­try exceed­ed this amount.  How­ev­er, Aus­tralia earned thir­teen times more from its beef exports than Kenya did from its tea exports. Yet it was painstak­ing­ly seek­ing to fur­ther expand its mar­ket reach into the EU.

I am con­fi­dent that CS Rebec­ca Miano, Kenya’s Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for the Min­istry of Invest­ment, Trade, and Indus­try togeth­er with her great team will pro­vide deci­sive lead­er­ship as Kenya seeks to con­quer EU’s lucra­tive mar­ket. EU’s econ­o­my is revealed to be worth $16 Tril­lion, mak­ing it the third-largest econ­o­my in the world. It accounts for one-sixth of glob­al trade.

It’s there­fore pre­dictable that the EU is Kenya’s sec­ond largest trad­ing part­ner. Total trade between the EU and Kenya was report­ed to be $3.5 bil­lion in 2022. This was an increase of 27% com­pared to 2018, which shows that we are on the right track. But we must now accel­er­ate our pace.

This same sce­nario can be found across Africa. In 2021, 65 % of goods import­ed to the EU from Africa were food and drink, raw mate­ri­als and energy.

In 2022 total trade between EU and Kenya was $3.5 bil­lion, it was a lot more for South Africa. That year, EU imports from South Africa were a stag­ger­ing $26.97 Billion.

Thank­ful­ly, as we progress in broad­en­ing our eco­nom­ic part­ner­ships with the EU, I sug­gest that we burn our mid­night oil to address three vital fac­tors – qual­i­ty, biose­cu­ri­ty, and pack­ag­ing. Neglect­ing these may ren­der our prod­ucts dead upon arrival.

First­ly, to access the EU mar­ket, we must align and empow­er all our rel­e­vant insti­tu­tions to help farm­ers grow top-qual­i­ty pro­duce. Our farm­ers need to be guid­ed to adopt Good Agri­cul­tur­al Prac­tices as a cri­te­ri­on for meet­ing EU standards.

Sec­ond­ly, we must equip Kenya Plant Health Inspec­torate Ser­vices (KEPHIS) to strict­ly ensure that Kenya’s food pro­duc­tion and gen­er­al plant heath meets EU and glob­al biose­cu­ri­ty require­ments. Our soils and pro­duce must be free from pests and dis­eases which always edge us out of the glob­al market.

Third­ly, we must Invest in supe­ri­or pack­ag­ing to meet glob­al stan­dard as this is cru­cial for our farm­ers to stop los­ing bil­lions and secure their right­ful place in the mar­ket. Qual­i­ty pack­ag­ing is not just the final step, but most crit­i­cal fac­tor in mar­ket entry success.

These three actions must how­ev­er be pur­sued in tan­dem with a boost in local man­u­fac­tur­ing. cur­rent­ly, Africa’s imports from the EU pre­dom­i­nant­ly con­sist of indus­tri­al and com­mer­cial goods. By inten­tion­al­ly ramp­ing up local pro­duc­tion of these items, we can sig­nif­i­cant­ly cut our import costs even as we cre­ate employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for our peo­ple. By the way a just won­der­ing, where is Kenya Indus­tri­al Estates (KIE) in this scheme? Sto­ry for anoth­er day.

Kenya must seize the moment to tap into the econ­o­my of 27 coun­tries that form the EU’s $16 tril­lion mar­ket, now. Sio kesho! Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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