TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

US, Kenya officially launch trade talks

Thursday, 09 July 2020

Source: Voice of America

The United States and Kenya formally launched negotiations Wednesday on a bilateral trade deal, which the countries hope could be replicated across Africa.

“Under President [Donald] Trump’s leadership, we look forward to negotiating and concluding a comprehensive, high-standard agreement with Kenya that can serve as a model for additional agreements across Africa,” said U.S. Ambassador Robert Lighthizer in a joint U.S.-Kenya statement.

The first round of discussions, held over the next two weeks, will be conducted remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Both countries announced formation of a working group to “lay the groundwork for a stronger future trade relationship” in August 2018, the same year the relationship between the two countries was upped to a strategic partnership. Trump and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta officially agreed to pursue trade negotiations in February 2020.

The U.S. and Kenya also announced a new strategic cooperation framework Wednesday, meant to help Kenya benefit fully from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which allows most products from sub-Saharan Africa into the U.S. duty free. The program is scheduled to expire in 2025.

The negotiations have seen some pushback. Nearly 30 nongovernmental organizations signed a letter (see attached) Tuesday against the proposed agreement, arguing that bilateral free trade would hurt Kenyan agriculture and manufacturing and undermine regional economic integration efforts through the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Lighthizer emphasized a deal’s potential for regional unity, saying, “We believe this agreement with Kenya will complement Africa’s regional integration efforts, including in the East African community and the landmark African Continental Free Trade Area, and the United States pledges its continued support to help the AfCFTA achieve its fullest potential.”

Betty Maina, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for industrialization, trade, and enterprise development, said in the statement that an agreement would boost Kenyan exports and foreign investment and would create jobs.

Trump, who opposes U.S. membership in the World Trade Organization, has led the charge to negotiate separate bilateral agreements with American trade partners.

View related news articles

'Kenyan SMEs to win big if proposed FTA with the US is adopted' – AMCHAM

'Kenyan SMEs to win big if proposed FTA with the US is adopted' – AMCHAM

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will be some of the biggest beneficiaries of the Free Trade Agreement that is currently being negotiated between the governments of Kenya and United States. American Chamber of Commerce in Kenya (AMCHAM) CEO Maxwell Okello says SMEs will benefit from increased trade opportunities for both export and import. According to the CEO, SMEs...

03 August, 2020
The US and Kenya launch negotiations on a free trade agreement. Will they succeed?

The US and Kenya launch negotiations on a free trade agreement. Will they succeed?

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration and Kenyan government launched trade negotiations in early July. Depending on the outcome of the negotiations, which were held virtually, the trade agreement could be the most significant development in U.S-Africa trade relations since the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) passed Congress in 2000. Indeed,...

30 July, 2020
Joint statement between the United States and Kenya on the launch of negotiations towards a FTA [incl. video]

Joint statement between the United States and Kenya on the launch of negotiations towards a FTA [incl. video]

Today, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization, Trade, and Enterprise Development Betty Maina formally launched trade agreement negotiations between the United States and the Republic of Kenya. “Kenya is a recognized leader across the continent, an important strategic partner of the United States, and there is...

08 July, 2020
Kenya ‘raring to go’ on free trade deal with US, Uhuru says

Kenya ‘raring to go’ on free trade deal with US, Uhuru says

Kenya’s negotiations with the US on an unprecedented two-way trade deal are on schedule to begin on July 7 despite difficulties posed by the coronavirus pandemic, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Friday. “Our team is raring to go,” he assured an online forum sponsored by the Washington-based Corporate Council on Africa. Kenya is aiming to create “sustainable jobs...

30 June, 2020
Kenya: Plans to lift suspension on mitumba imports ban underway

Kenya: Plans to lift suspension on mitumba imports ban underway

The government is at an advanced plan of lifting the suspension on importation of second hand clothes.  Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina says her ministry and that of Health are drafting safety guidelines to guide the handling and selling of second clothes before the ban is lifted.  This comes after mitumba traders said they were running out of stock following...

24 June, 2020