Kenya and the United Kingdom are due to hold reconciliation talks after a spat over Covid-19 danger levels that caused a tit-for-tat travel ban from both countries.
On Wednesday, the two countries announced that a joint committee would be established to study travel restrictions that posed a danger to bilateral trade, fiscal, and security ties.
Following a phone conversation between Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo and her UK counterpart, Dominic Raab, the announcement was made.
“They discussed the strength of our relationship — on trade, regional security, and health — and agreed to establish a Joint Committee to work together on addressing Covid-19 travel restrictions,” Kenya’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Passengers traveling between the two countries will face a travel ban beginning this Friday after the Kenyan government suspended all flights from the UK in retaliation for London’s decision to add the country to its travel “red list.” Travelers arriving in the UK from red-listed countries will be refused entry while returning Britons will be subjected to a 10-day mandatory quarantine in hotels. The UK reported that its decision was based on empirical proof that Kenya had strains of the deadlier South African version of coronavirus – a statement Kenya has denied.
In addition to the passenger flight ban, Kenya has ordered all non-citizens arriving from the United Kingdom to self-isolate for 14 days before being admitted to the region, dramatically reducing the number of tourists visiting Kenya ahead of the summer holidays.
Those coming from the United Kingdom must also submit to two obligatory Covid-19 examinations, one on the second and another on the quarantine’s eighth day.
To avert an outbreak of the conflict, both sides have agreed to meet at the negotiation table, despite fears that the crisis could jeopardize vital security and trade relations.
The travel bans also sparked questions about the impact on commerce and tourism between the two nations and bilateral relations such as military cooperation.
Kenya is reportedly negotiating a crucial new bilateral trade pact with the United Kingdom (UK) after Brexit, in the hopes of cushioning its economy after East African Community (EAC) partner states failed to reach an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU. The agreement was signed and ratified only by Kenya.
Kenya had duty-free and quota-free entry to the UK markets before concluding the Brexit implementation phase, thanks to the EU’s Market Access Regulation (MAR). Without a trade deal or other policies in effect, Kenya would have faced a rise in tariffs if the UK had not replicated the MAR at the end of the transition phase.