Govt told to involve MPs before signing trade pacts

Tuesday February 2 2016

A joint National Assembly and Senate sitting on March 27, 2014. FILE PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI

A joint National Assembly and Senate sitting on March 27, 2014. FILE PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

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The government has been told to involve Parliament before it ratifies any trade agreements that could open Kenya’s markets to processed goods from the European Union.

In a report, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) said Parliament was best suited to deliberate on such matters which could see Kenyan food industries edged out by multinationals whose contracted farmers enjoy huge subsidies in their respective countries.

“The full implementation of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), may shift consumption away from local products, to EU goods. This may in turn lead to a decline in production and employment in large-scale industries,” it said.

Extension services

KHRC suggested that local farmers be supplied with farm inputs, increased provision of extension services both from public and private providers, marketing services, storage facilities and trainings.

The report follows completion of a study entitled, ‘Impact of EU trade agreement EAC-EU EPA on Kenya’s Agriculture’, where KHRC called for establishment of a monitoring mechanism incase the agreement is ratified to track negative effects.

“Such information could provide an important basis for adjustments to be made during the review process which comes two years after the agreement is signed,” it said.

The report also recommended that the government actively monitors the trade flows between Kenya, the European Union and the rest of the EAC Partner States to determine whether it would be necessary to institute trade defence mechanisms in the event of a surge of imports.

The agriculture sub-sector in Kenya directly contributes 24.5 per cent to the national economy estimated to be Sh741 billion.

It also accounts for nearly 65 per cent of Kenya’s total exports while providing formal jobs to 18 per cent of Kenyans and indirectly to another 60 per cent.