EU to lift export taxes on Kenyan flowers in time for Valentine's
26 December 2014, 09:53
Nairobi - The European Union will grant an early return to duty-free trade in a range of agricultural products from east Africa, its ambassador to Kenya said on Wednesday, in a "Christmas gift" for Kenyan flower growers ahead of Valentine's Day.
The new deal will take effect on Dec. 25, replacing a tax the EU imposed on Oct. 1 after five east African countries missed a deadline for putting forward proposals for renewing their duty-free export status with the EU.
The countries agreed a new deal in October, but the European Parliament and European Commission had not been expected to confirm it until January.
Kenya is the biggest beneficiary of the duty-free regime because of its vast horticulture sector, a major foreign exchange earner for east Africa's biggest economy. The other countries also part of the trade deal are Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
Lodewijk Briet, the EU's ambassador to Kenya, said in a statement that the EU had "fast-tracked" approval of the deal and called it a "Christmas gift for Kenyan exporters."
"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," Briet said.
About a third of Kenya's flower sales come in the two weeks leading up to Feb. 14 each year, according to the Fresh Producers Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK).
Briet said 200 billion shillings ($2.21 billion) worth of goods are exported from Kenya to Europe each year, making the EU Kenya's largest export market.
Sales of fruit, vegetables, flowers and nuts are a leading source of hard currency for Kenya alongside tea exports and tourism. Agriculture accounts for about a quarter of the country's gross domestic product overall.
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