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UK gov’t temporarily suspends export taxes on East African flowers

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The United Kingdom government has temporarily suspended duty tax on flower imports from East Africa.

The UK government has said through regional High Commissions in Nairobi, Kampala, Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, and Kigali.

“Thursday April 11, from today, the UK has temporarily removed export tariffs for cut flowers, to make trade with the UK easier and cheaper for growers in East Africa and beyond,” the UK government said in a statement. 

Unlimited quantities of flowers can now be exported to the UK at 0% tariff, even if they transit via a third country.

This is particularly important for East African flower growers who transport their blooms via third-countries or auction houses before they arrive in the UK.

Regional pears including Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda—sell the bulk of cut flowers to Europe through auctions near Amsterdam.

The UK, which formally withdrew from the 28-member European Union bloc in January 2020, expects the policy action to benefit its citizens through reduced “price, seasonality and variety”.

The UK Trade Ministry further sees the move as boosting trade and strengthening economic ties with the East African Community bloc.

“The UK’s relationship with East Africa is rooted in mutually beneficial trade. This additional flower power will allow trade to bloom,” UK’s Trade Commissioner for Africa John Humphrey was quoted in the statement. “We go far when we go together… or in this case, we grow far when we grow together, further reinforcing the UK’s commitment to the expansion of trade in East Africa.”

“The move aims to increase trade and further strengthen the economic relationship between the UK and the East African region. UK consumers could win big too – on price, seasonality and variety.”

The suspension of 8% duty for cut flowers applies across the world but will be a big win for major flower-growing regions in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The duty suspension will remain in place for two years from April 11, 2024 to June 30, 2026.

In 2022, Kenya was ranked as the fourth biggest exporter of cut flowers in the world, with 6% of global cut-flower exports. Ethiopia is the second largest cut flower producer in Africa, making up 23% of Sub-Saharan African exports. In 2023, the value of trade in cut flowers between the UK and Ethiopia was valued at £12.6 million, Rwanda at £727,000, £839,000 from Tanzania, and £1.1 million from Uganda.

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