Kenya seeks ‘insurance’ against post-Brexit chaos in the UK

BY HENRY MARETE – Kenyan exports to the United Kingdom will continue to enjoy quota-free and duty-free access to the second biggest market within Europe and the fifth wealthiest in the world, even after Britain pulls out of the European Union.

Kenya’s High Commissioner to the UK, Manoah Esipisu says he has also sought assurances that UK companies will continue scaling up their investments in Kenya, following a meeting he held this week with Conor Burns, who is embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Minister in charge of international trade.

The UK remains one Kenya’s most important export destinations, with the two countries transacting business valued at Ksh.140b in 2018.

Kenya mainly exports cut flowers and other fresh produce to the UK. More than 300 UK companies operate in Kenya, making London the biggest foreign investor in Kenya.

However, a messy Brexit – UK’s process of leaving the European Union in line with results of referendum held in June 2016 – has given rise to uncertainty amongst Kenyan exporters since the country presently only has a quota-free and duty-free market access deal with the EU, rather than with individual member states, the UK included.

The UK is due to leave the EU by October 31st, with new Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisting the deadline will be met whether a written agreement to manage the post-Brexit era is secured with Brussels (EU Headquarters) or not (the so-called ‘No Deal’ Brexit)

The UK PM has suffered a series of devastating losses in Parliament this week, increasing the probability that Britain could chaotically crash out of the EU come end of October, with devastating consequences on her economy, and, the need to sign fresh trade deals with the rest of the world.

The House of Commons (the equivalent of Kenya’s National Assembly) has voted to take over the Brexit process and ensure Britain does not leave the EU without a deal.

As if that was not a body blow severe enough for the PM, MPs further rejected his call for a snap general election where he hoped to regain Parliamentary majority and push through a no-deal Brexit possibility, and on Thursday, his own brother quit Parliament, and Politics, a sign growing frustration with the PM’s plans.

But despite all the Brexit confusion and chaos, Kenya’s ambassador to the UK Manoah Esipisu expressed optimism Kenya will not lose out, whatever the outcome of the messy divorce proceedings between the UK and the EU.