NAIROBI (Reuters) – Britain is committed to free trade with Kenya after it leaves the European Union, British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday on a visit to Nairobi as her government plays up increased trade with non-EU nations as a Brexit selling point.
May was speaking on the third stop of a trip to Africa during which she has said she wants Britain to become the biggest investor on the continent out of the world’s richest nations.
“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.
The EU is currently Britain’s biggest trading partner. Skeptics say closer ties and more trade with Africa will do little to offset the economic impact of Brexit.
Total trade with Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya, the three nations on her tour this week, amounted to just over 13 billion pounds in 2016, official British figures show, compared with 554 billion pounds of trade with the EU that year.
The prime minister has used her first official visit to the region of more than one billion people to stress that Britain’s relationship with former colonies, including Kenya and other African nations, is increasingly focused on private investment, not on aid.
In Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and most populous nation, May also promised closer commercial ties and promoted the longstanding presence of British companies in the country.