No, Kenya doesn’t export flowers to the EU on WTO terms

11 January 2019
What was claimed

We import flowers from Kenya under WTO rules.

Our verdict

Incorrect. Kenya-EU trade is governed by a trade agreement that supersedes WTO rules and removes tariffs on the import of Kenyan flowers to the EU.

“Kenya sells us lots of flowers, which have a short shelf-life, and it currently trades with us on WTO rules. We have no problems there.”

Andrea Jenkyns MP, 9 January 2019

It’s incorrect to say that Kenya trades with the EU (or by extension, the UK) on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, as was claimed by an MP this week.

The WTO sets rules which require member countries to apply tariffs and trade regulations in a non-discriminatory way to each other. This is known as trading on WTO terms. We’ve written more on this here.

However countries can strike trade agreements allowing them to treat each other better than under standard WTO terms. So the EU trades with some countries via an agreement, and others under WTO terms.

Kenya currently trades with the EU under such an agreement, the EU’s Market Access Regulation. That reduces tariffs and quotas on Kenyan imports compared to if Kenya traded with the EU under WTO terms.

Let’s take the example of flowers mentioned by Andrea Jenkyns in the House of Commons this week.

There is no tariff on importing roses from Kenya because of the Market Access Regulation.

However importing roses from the USA (with whom we have no trade agreement and so trade with under WTO rules), for example, incurs a tariff of 8.5%.

We contacted Ms Jenkyns’ office who said she was trying to highlight the fact that perishable goods (such as flowers) are currently able to come from relatively far-off countries (such as Kenya) without problems such as backlogs at Calais when crossing the Channel.  

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Kenya has also agreed a wider trade deal with the EU, but it’s not in force yet

In 2016 Kenya signed a trade agreement with the EU. The agreement had been negotiated between the EU and five African nations including Kenya.

But of the five African states, only Kenya has fully ratified the agreement, so it hasn’t yet come into force.

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