All Systems Go As Kenya-UK Trade Deal Comes Into Force 

Status of the Agreement

On 3 November 2020, Kenya and the UK signed the Kenya-UK Economic Partnership Agreement (the EPA) to continue the preferential zero tariff and zero quota trade of goods between the two countries. The signed provisions of the EPA were provisionally applied as of 1 January 2020, pending entry into force of the EPA. For Kenya this meant that, before ratification, the EPA would not be binding despite its provisional application to prevent disruption of preferential trade conditions. On 2 March 2021, the UK Parliament gave its consent for the EPA to be ratified, as the scrutiny period pre-ratification ended without any opposition from the House of Lords. Subsequently, on 9 March 2021, Kenya's National Assembly also approved the EPA.

After approval by the respective Parliaments, on 22 of March 20211 both countries exchanged their instruments of ratification, marking the entry into force of the EPA, which is now therefore legally binding for Kenya and the UK.

The Next Steps

For Kenya, the next step is for the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development to sign, seal, and deposit the instruments of ratification with the World Trade Organisation. A copy is also to be filed with Kenya's Registrar of Treaties.2

Additionally, to implement the EPA, Kenya and the UK will have to establish an EPA Council. The Kenyan representative to the EPA will be the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development. Furthermore, Kenya is also looking to negotiate further with the UK on trade in services, investment and private sector development. As per the Rendez-Vous Clause of the EPA, Kenya (and any other East African Community member State that accedes to the EPA) and the UK will undertake these negotiations within five years of the EPA having entered into force.3


1 British High Commission Nairobi, Press Release on 22 March 2021, 'UK-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement enters into force'. See also: Business Daily, Kenya now eyes UK talks on free trade in services. Available at:

2 Section 10, Treaty Making and Ratification Act (No. 45 of 2012).

3 Article 3, Economic Partnership Agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the one part, and the Republic of Kenya, a Member of the East African Community.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.