It is good news as the EU’s timely puts in efforts to fast-track Kenya’s reinstatement on duty-free status for its exports to the EU market. Just in time for Valentine’s Day 2015, which is the flower industry’s peak sale season.
Recently, the European Parliament and the Kenya Flower Council both confirmed that they do not object to the proposed European Commission Delegated Regulation issued on 14 November 2014 that re-inserts Kenya on the list of beneficiary countries in Annex I to Council Regulation (EC) No 1528/2007 – the so-called ‘EU Market Access Regulation’ (MAR). In so doing Kenya was expected to be reinstated by end of 2014 to dutyfree status for all flowers and floriculture products imported to the EU. This comes as a huge relief for Kenya’s floriculture sector and for all operators and businesses involved in the floriculture trade both in Kenya and in the EU particularly in view of the approaching peak sale season on Valentine’s Day.
Kenya is the major provider of quality cut flowers to the EU market, with a total export value of 350 million EUR and a market share of approximately 38%-40%. The floricultural industry has significantly contributed to economic, social and environmental development in Kenya and created job opportunities for close to 90,000 Kenyans employed directly and a further 1.5 million people employed in the ancillary service sectors.
Since 1 October 2014, flower exports from Kenya to the EU market have started attracting import duties between 5% and 8.5% under the EU GSP regime due to the delay in finalising an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the East African Community (EAC) member states. The additional cost associated with the duties has had to be absorbed by the floriculture sector in order to remain competitive in European markets and to safeguard jobs and the enormous capital investment in the industry.
Following the successful finalization and initialing of the EPA between the EU and EAC member states on 16 October 2014, all operators involved in the floriculture trade with Kenya have been anxiously awaiting the announcement of the reinstatement of a duty-free regime for all flower exports from Kenya to the EU market.