by David Musyoka
NAIROBI, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Kenya has started negotiations with Britain to maintain its market shares as the latter prepares to leave the European Union (EU).
Principal Secretary of International Trade Chris Kiptoo told Xinhua in a telephone interview that informal trade negotiation has started between the two countries.
"We have started talks with UK officials as part of ensuring we have maintained our market once the country formally leaves EU. The talks are going on at both ends, but formal discussion will start once UK formally exits EU," said Kiptoo.
As time nears for Britain to leave the EU formally, Kenya is compelled to devise new ways to maintain its market share in the EU and in Britain.
Britain occupies the fourth position in terms of export destination of Kenyan goods after Uganda, the Netherlands, and the United States. Out of the total Kenyan exports to the EU market, Britain enjoys a 20-percent share, underscoring the need for the Kenyan government to renegotiate the trade deals.
According to the Economic Survey 2016, Kenya exported goods to EU market worth 145.9 billion Kenya shillings in 2015, out of which 40.6 billion went to the Britain market alone.
Kenya exports to the EU market flowers, French beans, cowpeas, coffee, and tea. Currently Kenya is the main supplier of cut flowers to the EU with about 40-percent market shares, beating Colombia, Ecuador and Israel.
Kenya exported a total of 133,658.3 tonnes of cut flower, earning 70.8 billion shillings, or 70 percent of the 2016 horticultural earnings. The volume of cut flower sold over the period was 8.8 percent higher than in the previous year.
Kenya is not the only African country that will have to negotiate new trade deals with the EU and Britain. After formally exiting the EU, Britain will have two years to renegotiate trade agreements with African countries.