Kenya and Hungary signs bilateral deal worth $50m
Kenya and Hungary yesterday signed four bilateral agreements worth $50 million (Sh5.7 billion) to support projects in the health, water, education and the diplomacy sectors.
The deals were signed at State House Nairobi shortly after President Uhuru Kenyatta and his visiting Hungarian counterpart János Áder led their respective delegations in the bilateral talks.
The Kenyan president used the opportunity to urge Hungary to help unlock the historic outstanding Economic Partnership Agreement between the East African Community (EAC) and the European Union (EU).
The EU-EAC EPA covers trade in goods and fisheries as well as development cooperation aimed at reinforcing cooperation on the sustainable use of resources. Further negotiations are ongoing to include services and trade-related rules in the future.
The deal on health covers human resource capacity building, information sharing and prevention of diseases including the Covid-19 pandemic, while the pact on education will double the number of Kenyans receiving Hungarian government scholarships from the current 100 to 200 annually and that on water covers waste water management.
Though the two trading blocs finalised a draft agreement in 2014 after almost a decade of negotiations, the deal soon hit headwinds within the EAC, the contention being that Kenya, which ratified the treaty in 2016 is classified as a developing economy after rebasing its growth figures in 2014 with the rest classified as least developed nations (LDCs).
As LDCs, the rest of the countries have had no reason to rush and ratify the document because their goods can still access the EU market duty-free under “the everything but arms protocol”, though the position could dramatically change following Tanzania’s inclusion in the developing economy category.
“We thank you and your administration for the kind gesture which will not only help strengthen our people-to-people collaboration but also enhance our two countries’ cooperation within the wider Kenya-European Union partnership,” President Uhuru said.
On trade and investment cooperation, Uhuru said Kenya’s desire was to see more private sector involvement.
According to the United Nations database on international 2020 statistics, balance of trade between Kenya and Hungary is skewed in favour of the later, with Kenya’s imports standing at $9.36 million (Sh1 billion) against exports of goods worth $785,000 (Sh89 million).