EU-Kenya trade deal lacks ambition on animal welfare


EU-Kenya trade deal lacks ambition on animal welfare

6 March 2024
The EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has been celebrated as the first trade agreement with a developing country in which the EU’s new approach to trade and sustainable development is reflected, including strong provisions on labour, gender equality and the environment. Eurogroup for Animals regrets that this ambition was not extended to animal welfare, which receives no mention.

The European Parliament has approved the EU-Kenya EPA. Originally conceived as an EU-East Africa Community bloc-to-bloc deal, Kenya was permitted to negotiate a bilateral EPA with the EU given the delays in the bloc agreement, which other East African Community countries can join in the future.

The EU-Kenya deal grants further market access for Kenyan products without any animal welfare cooperation or conditions. While Kenya does not currently export many animal products to the EU, the unconditional liberalisation may incentivise intensive farming in Kenya, potentially leading to negative rather than beneficial impacts on sustainability objectives. 

Despite this, there are some provisions which may provide at least some benefit to animals. Most notably, the agreement commits the EU to provide adequate capacity building to improve Kenya’s access to animal production services like veterinary services; provides for cooperation on sustainable agriculture development, including animal disease control; provides for SPS cooperation, including capacity building and information exchange to enhance Kenya’s participation in the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH).

Given the lack of provisions on animal protection in the agreement, it is critical that the EU and Kenya work together to maximise the use of the existing language to achieve positive outcomes for animals. Working on animal welfare has far-reaching positive implications on the Sustainable Development Goals. For instance, working animals are essential to the livelihoods of the poorest communities in Africa. These animals increase their owners’ incomes by enabling them to work.  Ensuring the welfare of working animals will contribute to the development of local communities.

The difficulty of negotiating ambitious terms with trading partners also highlights the necessity for the EU to apply its welfare standards to imported products. Meanwhile, incorporating animal welfare provisions in trade deals represents a constructive approach to promote welfare standards through EU trade policy and help third partners prepare for the introduction of such standards.

The EU is Kenya’s first export destination and the EPA will create even more opportunities for Kenyan businesses and exporters, as it will at once fully open the EU market for Kenyan products (mainly vegetables, fruits and flowers) and incentivise EU investment to Kenya.