European trade deal with East African community set to increase meat and livestock trade

By By Bertha M Rinjeu, in Nairobi, and Hanna Lange-Chenier

- Last updated on GMT

Kenya remains one of the EU’s biggest trading partners in the East African Community
Kenya remains one of the EU’s biggest trading partners in the East African Community

Related tags: European union, Beef, Lamb

Kenya’s meat industry is worried that East Africa’s meat and livestock sector could suffer from the impact of subsidised European Union (EU) exports now that a trade deal has been agreed between the EU and the East African Community (EAC).

Speaking days after an Economic Partnership Agreement (EAP) has been agreed between the two, Qalicha Wario, chief executive officer of the Kenya Livestock Marketing Council, warned: “I think that if they give a subsidy of 80% [to EU farmers] it is not fair.”​ He said the effect could be “killing the pastoralists and the livestock industry”​ of East Africa and added that future trade deals should take such subsidies into account and be more balanced.

That said, he accepted the agreement could enable Kenya to sell more exports of all kinds, and the resulting increased tax take could “provide services like water and veterinary services. Some counties have only one veterinary surgeon – this tax money can help,”​ he explained.

The agreement, finalised on 16 October, could open up markets in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, as well as Kenya, with duties being phased out over the next 15 years.

Kenya remains one of the EU’s biggest trading partners in the East African Community, with live animal and meat exports to the country representing 1.5% of all EU agricultural exports to Kenya in 2013.

The agreement will give the EU meat sector access to markets in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, with tariffs gradually being phased out, so that the vast majority of EU exports enter these countries duty free. “The EAC countries committed to increasing the share of their duty-free imports to 80% over the coming 15 years,”​ noted a European Commission communiqué. Meanwhile, EAC livestock and meat will enjoy unlimited duty-free access to EU markets if they can meet quality standards.

Data from the European Commission’s trade directorate general said that EU imports of live animals and animal products from the EAC totalled €142 million in 2013, while EU exports to the EAC totalled €22m.

Kenya is one of the EU’s biggest EAC trading partners – live animals, preparations of meat, and meat and edible meat offal exports to Kenya represented 2.5% of all EU agricultural exports to the country in 2013, according to the European Commission’s agriculture and rural development office. Exports of meat, meat offal, prepared products and other meat exports from the EU to Kenya were valued by international trade data at approximately €1.33m in 2013.

Despite the promise of new markets, and the Kenyan concerns, the response from European industry groups has been lukewarm. Senior analyst Stephen Howarth, of the Bpex pig meat section of the UK’s Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), said: “Both imports and exports of pig meat are less than 1,000 tonnes across all the countries – and some of that may be trade between them,” he noted. “On that basis, I can’t imagine that it’s going to have much impact on the UK (or EU) market.”

A spokesperson for Eblex, the beef and lamb division of the AHDB, said: “East Africa has not specifically been identified as a key target market for UK exports of beef and lamb. However, opening new markets for our products remains a key strategy for Eblex, not least to spread risk and manage market volatility for our producers to help them maximise returns.”

Related topics: Meat

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