A florist displays his goods at City Market on September 27, 2013. Kenyan exporters of freshly cut flowers to the European Union will from December 25, 2014 be exempted from paying taxes the Union had been levying on them since October. PHOTO | DENISH OCHIENG | NATION MEDIA GROUP
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
Kenyan exporters of freshly cut flowers to the European Union will from Thursday be exempted from paying taxes the Union had been levying on them since October.
This comes after Kenya was successfully returned to the quota-free and duty-free export regime for European markets for fresh produce.
In a statement released Wednesday, EU Ambassador to Kenya Lodewijk Briët said the changes in the tarrifs policy will take effect this morning (Thursday). Earlier indication was that the rules would take effect in January.
“I am very happy to confirm that, as of Christmas Day, Kenyan goods – cut flowers, fresh produce and much more - will once again enter the European Union market without tariffs or quota limits,” Mr Briët said.
KENYANS TO BENEFIT
“This means the Sh200 billion of Kenya exports that are sold in Europe will remain competitive, and Europe will remain Kenya’s largest export market,” he said.
“This will eventually benefit both Kenyans and the European Union because exporters could save the money that would otherwise be used to pay taxes to improve the quality of produce back here,” the envoy noted.
The EU formally returned Kenya to this status after the European Parliament and the European Council accepted the proposal for the country to be put back under the Market Access regulation.
It comes as a relief to the many exporters whose fresh products to Europe have been subjected to import duties of between 5 per cent and 8.5 per cent since October this year.
DECISION A RELIEF
It was a punishment Kenya faced following delays in finalising an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the East African Community member states.
While the two blocs finally reached an agreement on October 16, it was more than two weeks after the stipulated deadline and the EU had said its implementation will take time.
“This decision is a relief for Kenya’s floriculture sector and for all operators and businesses involved in the floriculture trade in Kenya in view of the approaching peak sale season — Valentine’s Day,” Kenya Flower Council chief executive Jane Ngige and Union Fleurs (an international flower trade association) secretary general Sylvie Mamias said in a joint statement last week.