As a member of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries, Kenya has had formal trade arrangements with the European Union since 1975 under the four Lomé Conventions between 1975 and 2000, and the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between 2000 and 2007. These agreements were non-reciprocal in the sense that even though most exports from ACP countries entered the Europe Union duty-free, imports from the EU to Kenya faced tariffs. Other members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) contested this preferential treatment of exports from ACP countries because the preferences were discriminative against them. Brazil, Australia and Thailand challenged preferences for sugar exports from ACP countries, and Latin American countries challenged preferences for banana exports.
These challenges at the WTO prompted the EU to seek a reciprocal arrangement with ACP countries. In the Cotonou Agreement, ACP and EU members committed to negotiating a reciprocal Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) compatible with WTO rules. The EU carried out negotiations with the following regional groups within the ACP: the Caribbean; Pacific; South African Development Community; East African Community (EAC); Eastern and Southern Africa; Central Africa and West Africa. Kenya was part of the EAC Party, which also included Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.