TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Members of Congress warn Trump not to push for plastic concessions in Kenya trade talks

Friday, 02 October 2020 Published: | Zach Boren

Source: Unearthed/Greenpeace

Leading US politicians have urged President Trump to oppose the export of more plastic waste to Africa after an investigation by Unearthed and the New York Times revealed oil industry attempts to influence a US-Kenya trade deal.

In a letter released after the investigation landed on the front page of the New York Times, one Republican and 61 Democrats from both the Senate and the House of Representatives said: “The United States’ solution to the plastic pollution crisis cannot be to simply open more markets abroad for plastic products and find destinations to send increasing amounts of plastic waste. T

his is totally at odds with the global policy solution to prevent plastic pollution—not to mention climate change.”

The letter, which was arranged by Senator Tom Udall, includes the signatures of senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, California’s long-time senator Dianne Feinstein, and Earl Blumenauer, chairman of the ways and means subcommittee on trade.

As well as prominent progressive house members Pramila Jayapal, Ayanna Pressley, and Ro Khanna. It includes one Republican: Francis Rooney, a Congressman in Florida.

The story caused public outcry in Kenya, which prompted the country’s environment minister to warn the plastics industry that the government could still impose stricter plastic bans. The Kenyan government banned single plastic from some of the nation’s protected areas in June.

Revelations

The Unearthed story described how the American Chemistry Council (ACC) – a lobby group representing oil and chemical companies such as Shell, Exxon, Total, DuPont and Dow – has pushed the Trump administration to use the proposed trade deal to expand the plastic and chemical industry across Africa.

Documents show the group also lobbied against changes to an international agreement that puts new limits on plastic waste entering low and middle-income countries.

Several of the companies in the ACC – including Shell, Exxon and Total but not BP – were the founders of a $1bn initiative that pledges to create “a world free of plastic waste”.

Kenyan environmentalists feared the proposals would mean that “Kenya will become a dump site for plastic waste”.

 

View related news articles

US warns Kenya over shilling manipulation

US warns Kenya over shilling manipulation

The US has warned Kenya against manipulation of the shilling against the dollar during the ongoing talks for a bilateral trade pact. The US is seeking an undertaking that Kenya will let market forces influence the rate of exchange of the shilling to the dollar as part of the trade agreement. This pre-condition in the free trade deal (FTA) echoes past claims by the...

29 September, 2020
US-Africa trade relations: 'Why is AGOA better than a bilateral free trade agreement?'

US-Africa trade relations: 'Why is AGOA better than a bilateral free trade agreement?'

In recent months, the U.S. began negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement with Kenya. These negotiations are aligned with the current administration’s vision for trade reciprocity rather than unilateral trade preference programs. Although these negotiations could produce the first bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and a sub-Saharan African country, a...

24 September, 2020
'Proposed trade between Kenya and US might bring more harm'

'Proposed trade between Kenya and US might bring more harm'

On February 6, President Uhuru Kenyatta met with US President Donald Trump at the White House. Following the meeting, the two presidents announced their aim to pursue a free trade agreement between the two countries. By March 2020, President Trump had notified Congress of his intention, the key goal being cited as the need to reach an agreement that builds on the objectives...

20 September, 2020
'Kenya-US free trade talks are under way: what Nairobi must get right from start'

'Kenya-US free trade talks are under way: what Nairobi must get right from start'

The United States and Kenya formally launched negotiations for a free trade agreement on 8 July 2020. With the US gearing up for presidential elections in a few months, these talks may not draw much global attention. But as a prototype for evaluating the substance of future US-Africa trade relations, a lot rides on Washington using this deal to make a bold statement of its...

18 August, 2020
'Kenya-US FTA talks 1st round likely to conclude by Aug 14'

'Kenya-US FTA talks 1st round likely to conclude by Aug 14'

Kenya and the United States recently resumed trade pact talks after it was stalled for several weeks. The talks formally kicked off on July 8 but were stalled due to COVID-19 concerns among the team. The first round of the talks is expected to be concluded by August 14. It may take up to two years for a full free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, said a top...

10 August, 2020