UAE and Kenya conclude terms of Cepa trade in sectors from food to tech

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Kenya is one of Africa’s most dynamic economies, offering both parties new opportunities for growth, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi says

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said the Cepa with Kenya will provide scope to expand in various sectors. Antonie Robertson / The National

The two trading partners will seek to tap into opportunities in sectors including food production, mining, technology and logistics, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said in a post on X on Friday.

“An access point into a high-growth region, Kenya is already a major partner.”

In 2023, the UAE and Kenya’s non-oil trade rose 26.4 per cent year on year to $3.1 billion, Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

This latest pact is the UAE’s third Cepa with an African country. In December, it concluded the terms of a deal with Mauritius and with the Republic of Congo.

The UAE has already concluded Cepas with India, Israel, Indonesia, Turkey, Georgia, Cambodia, Colombia, South Korea and Costa Rica.

In 2023, the UAE’s non-oil foreign trade hit a record Dh3.5 trillion ($953 billion), bolstered by its economic diversification plans, as the Arab world’s second-largest economy signed a series of Cepas with major economies around the world.

The pact comes a few days before the UAE hosts the World Trade Organisation’s 13th Ministerial Conference, which faces the tough task of brokering key trade agreements, on Monday.


Kenya’s real gross domestic product growth rose to an estimated 5 per cent in 2023, from 4.8 per cent in 2022. The African economy is projected to achieve growth that is between 4.5 per cent and 5.2 per cent in 2024.

The UAE-Kenya Cepa will hasten investment flows in high potential areas such as logistics, health care, travel, tourism, infrastructure and information communications technology.

It will help small and medium enterprises to expand, the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Trade said on Friday.

In terms of stimulating tourism, Kenya earlier announced it had dropped visa requirements for all visitors from around the world from January this year.

The services sector, which accounts for 53.6 per cent of Kenya’s gross domestic product, and its agriculture sector, which comprises about a quarter of national GDP, offer “vast potential” for UAE businesses seeking to expand into Africa, the Ministry of Foreign Trade said.

The deal marks a “a new chapter of trade relations” between the two countries that will secure vital East and West supply chains, spur investment into priority sectors and boost market access for Emirati and Kenyan businesses, it said.

“The UAE-Kenya CEPA will not only boost trade and investment, but also foster innovation and sustainable growth in key sectors such as agriculture, technology and tourism,” Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

“We look forward to deepening our relationship with Kenya and to further expanding our presence in Africa.”

Rebecca Miano, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade and Industry, said the African nation had identified trade as a “key lever” of its economic growth and transformation.

“We are on a national development path that is seeking to increase industrial output, enhance the quality and global competitiveness of that output, and to expand the opportunities for its export,” she said.

“The comprehensive economic partnership agreement with the [UAE] will play a key role in these efforts, enabling our exports to reach important markets in Asia and the Middle East, and also in stimulating the investment inflows that will further develop our national capabilities.”

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