Exporters regain duty-free access to Europe in January

Thursday December 18 2014

Workers preparing export flowers at Chemirei Farm, Finlay Flowers in Kericho. PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI |

Workers preparing export flowers at Chemirei Farm, Finlay Flowers in Kericho. Kenya will regain duty-free access status for all flowers and floriculture exported to the European Union by end of this month. PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI |  NATION

Kenya will regain duty-free access status for all flowers and floriculture exported to the European Union by end of this month.

The European Union Parliament accepted a proposal by European Commission Delegated Regulation on 14 November to reinstate Kenya to the EU market access.

The announcement is a relief for the country’s floriculture particularly in view of the approaching peak sale season on Valentine’s Day celebrated on February 14 every year.

“What now remains is the formal publication in the European Union official journal of the Commission Delegated Regulation that will effectively advise customs that the duty-free status has been reinstated. We expect this final formal step to be completed before 31 December 2014, meaning that Kenya can start the New Year with a renewed duty-free access to the EU market,” a statement sent by Kenya Flower Council to its members reads.

Since October 1, flower exports to the European Union market have been attracting import duties of between 5 per cent and 8.5 per cent due to delay in signing an Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and the East African Community.

ADDITIONAL COST

The additional cost of the duties has been absorbed by the floriculture sector in order to remain competitive and to safeguard jobs and the enormous capital investment in the industry.

Kenya is among the top producers of cut flowers to the European Union market, with an export value of €350 million and a market share of 40 per cent.

Floriculture employs about 90,000 people directly and another 1.5 million people in the support services. The European Union and the East African Community finalised negotiations on October 16 and the operators in the floriculture trade have been waiting for the announcement of the reinstatement of a duty-free regime. 

The process was further accelerated through recognition by both the European Parliament and the council. As a result, the standard two month review was successfully reduced to one month.

“All parties are aware that there remains some essential steps to be taken by the EU and the East African Community member states” the statement read.