Kenya seeks temporary pact with US ahead of full trade-deal

Kenya seeks temporary pact with US ahead of full trade-deal

Kenya is seeking a placeholder trade partnership before establishing a fully-fledged trade deal with the United States.

Outgoing Trade and Industrialization Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina expects engagements on the deal to continue under the next administration as she exits the stage.

“What we are currently in discussions over is the development of a strategic trade and investment partnership which is a placeholder for a full Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) in the future,” she said on Monday.

Presently, the US represented by its Trade Representative Office (USTR) has been taking comments from various American and Kenyan firms until September 16.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai is presently in the country having been appointed among for others to represent President Joe Biden at the inauguration ceremony for the new President William Ruto on Tuesday.

The pair of countries are expected to resume negotiations in October.

Kenya and the US have nevertheless agreed on areas of collaboration including agriculture, anti-corruption, digital economy, environment, climate change, transparency, good regulatory practices, MSMEs, workers’ rights and youth and women participation.

The negotiators are set to establish the benchmark for trade engagements between the US and the Rest of Africa.

Following changes in administration, the US reviewed previous trade negotiations establishing a new roadmap in July this year.

The negotiations with the US are the first for Kenya at a bilateral level with all other previous deals being multilateral.

Other pacts recently completed or under works include the Kenya-UK Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), Kenya-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and the Interim Kenya-EU EPA.

Outgoing Principal Secretary in the State Department of Trade and Kenya’s Chief Negotiator in the trade negotiations Amb. Johnson Waweru has asked the incoming administration and the private sector to stand firm on Kenya’s demands at the negotiating table.

“Speak with one voice. What you have on the table between the negotiators should be the same script tabled to the UAE, the Americans, the British and Europeans, that’s what I ask of you,” he told private sector actors in a meeting on Monday.

Kenya’s trade negotiations have been a rough balancing act between preserving the competitiveness of locally produced goods and services and accessing new export markets.

The new trade pact between Kenya and the US is expected to replace Kenya’s current market access to the United States through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which expires in 2025. 


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