May reassures on Kenya trade ties

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta arrive to address the media in Nairobi
British Prime Minister Theresa May and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta arrive to address the media in Nairobi
Image: AFP

British Prime Minister Theresa May held talks with Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi on Thursday, promising post-Brexit trade continuity, on the final leg of her threenation tour of Africa.

The three-day tour is part of a campaign to promote Britain's global ambitions and strengthen relations, with just seven months left until it formally leaves the EU.

Kenyatta said May had offered assurances that Kenya's access to British markets would not be affected by Brexit.

“I don't see Brexit as meaning anything detrimental towards the strong trade ties we have,” Kenyatta said.

After nearly two hours of talks at State House in the capital Nairobi, both leaders referenced the historically close ties between Britain and its former colony, despite May’s being the first visit by a British prime minister for 30 years.

"We wish to prosper together so let us do business together,” Kenyatta said.

“We have democracy in common so let us defend it together.

“And as for our common enemies, such as terrorism, let us fight it together.”

May was eager to emphasise the opportunities for bilateral trade deals once Britain leaves the EU.

“As Britain prepares to leave the European Union, we are committed to a smooth transition that ensures continuity in our trading relationship with Kenya, ensuring Kenya retains its duty-free, quota-free access to the UK market,” May said.

“Continuity is what's important no sudden disruption to trading relationships."

The leaders agreed to strengthen security co-operation and to ensure that proceeds of Kenyan corruption stashed in British banks would be repatriated to Kenya.

“We signed an agreement to ensure that any proceeds of corruption in Kenya that end up in the UK will be given back to the Kenyan people and spent for their benefit,” May said.

Britain remains Kenya’s biggest trading partner but the relationship has stagnated in recent years.

May’s visit comes as Kenyatta returns from meeting with President Donald Trump in Washington and before he travels to Beijing to participate in a China-Africa summit.