Ruto asks EU to relax tough checks on Kenyan exports
President William Ruto has indicated that the European Union (EU) could boost his government’s agenda on revamping agriculture by letting up a little on the exceedingly stringent phytosanitary protocols imposed on Kenyan exports to the lucrative market.
While speaking at the EU-Kenya business forum on Tuesday, Dr Ruto underscored the importance of agriculture in the Kenya Kwanza economic agenda, urging the bloc to accommodate the country’s technological disadvantage that often renders it incapable of upholding ‘onerous’ plant hygiene requirements.
“As the highest multiplier of employment opportunities, agriculture is a key pillar of our bottom-up economic transformation agenda to increase incomes and employment and reduce poverty and inequality. Its strong linkages mean that the impact of agriculture cuts across manufacturing, all the way to logistics, with positive outcomes in all sectors.
“These benefits and opportunities are curtailed by barriers faced by our agricultural exports to the EU. They are subjected to product and market-specific restrictions and onerous phytosanitary standards, compounding infrastructure-related challenges like flight difficulties and low technological capacity, which hinder productivity,” said the President.
He expressed confidence that strategic dialogue at the two-day event will address the barriers and smoothen the path for more robust trade relations and investment opportunities.
The EU is the biggest destination for Kenyan exports, accounting for Kes170 billion in 2021. The bloc also accounted for 16.5 percent of Kenya’s total import bill for the same year, which amounted to Kes355 billion.
Trading with the EU helps Kenya create millions of direct and indirect jobs in the country’s main exports of tea, coffee, cut flower, and pea value chains.