The future of UK-East Africa trade

"Since the mid-1970s, rapid growth in exports has contributed to a wider process of economic growth which has lifted more than 400 million people out of poverty. In countries such as Vietnam and Uganda, production for export markets has helped to generate unprecedented declines in levels of rural poverty." - Oxfam, Make Trade Fair, 2002

IFT worked with the Eastern Africa Policy Centre, based in Nairobi (Kenya), to produce original research on the UK-East Africa trade relationship.

This paper aimed to:

  • Give a broad picture of current UK trade with the East African Community (EAC) countries, in its context of the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreement with the region and the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences. We also give a brief overview of the current UK-EAC aid and investment relationship.
  • Analyse the possible impact of Brexit on UK-EAC trade, suggesting, where necessary, ways of avoiding potential damage to current trade flows. The paper includes case studies of the two most significant EAC exports to the UK: tea and cut flowers.
  • Suggest ways that UK-EAC trade can be improved after Brexit, in terms of increasing the volume of trade and contributing to the economic development of the EAC countries. We identify changes that can be made across the following platforms: UK unilateral preference scheme; UK agricultural policy; UK regulatory environment; UK immigration strategy; UK-EAC investment cooperation; a bespoke UK-EAC trade agreement.
  • Give a broader set of recommendations on post-Brexit UK trade policy vis-à-vis Africa and the developing world, based on observations drawn from the East African example.
The future of UK-East Africa trade