“We just had a renewed commitment from the government, from no less than the president himself, to say that he is committed to concluding this process and actually going to champion the discussions here in Kenya and also within East Africa,” Jane Ngige, managing director of the Kenya Flower Council, told CNBC Africa.
Kenya’s horticulture sector has been hard hit in the past four years as producers grow anxious over a weakened global economy, and failure to conclude these talks.
The European Union (EU) is however optimistic that they will get an economic partnership agreement in place with the East Africa community member states before the October 1 deadline.
The talks have however been going on for more than a decade, and if they continue to drag on, the county’s flower industry could begin to suffer even more losses.
“The teams that are negotiating have obviously learnt the elements they need to pay a lot of attention to. Both sides are making sure that they get the best out of this agreement, given that it is a negotiated agreement that has a timeless span. So both parties are making sure they get the best for their individual constituencies,” Ngige explained.
In 2013, Kenya’s flower industry brought in 46 billion Kenyan shillings, three billion shillings more than the previous year.
Flower exports are consequently a crucial economic activity for the country, and Kenya could stand to lose roughly 500,000 jobs directly and indirectly if the agreement is not concluded. Around 2.2 million jobs could also be at stake.
There is however growing interest in Kenya’s flowers from other African countries, and Kenya continues to export flowers to the European Union.
“The European Union remains our most important market. We have a market share of over 40 per cent of what the European Union imports, but it also means that over the years we have been exploring other markets. We have, for instance, become quite significant exporters into Japan and into Eastern Europe. Now we’re looking to building a good portfolio in the American market,” said Ngige.