U.S. and Kenya start free trade talks

Kenya/United States
Published:  15 July, 2020

If a free trade agreement (FTA) is reached between both nations, the model could be used for similar deals between other African countries. However, nearly 30 trade lobby groups from across Africa have voiced their opposition to the Kenya - U.S. FTA.

According to Kenya’s Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, the Kenya - U.S. FTA will replace the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa), which is set to expire in 2025. Agoa was initially signed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton before being extended by Barack Obama in 2015. The new deal is said to be compatible with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) framework and respects the commitments Kenya has made with trading blocs such as Comesa and the East Africa Community (EAC).

“It is our hope that, when complete, the agreement will not only be the first of its kind between the U.S. and a sub-Saharan African country, but also lay the groundwork to strengthen and deepen our relationships with economies across the continent by providing the necessary legal protections and enduring, reciprocal trade”, said Scott Eisner, President, U.S. - Africa Business Centre at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber supports the administration’s efforts to expand opportunities for American companies in key markets across the African continent and fully supports the pursuit of a comprehensive, high-standard trade agreement with Kenya. We look forward to building support for our members’ priorities through our U.S.-Kenya Trade Working Group and working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to bring this deal to fruition”, added Eisner.

Reportedly, several organisations from Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania have expressed their opposition to the trade deal. “The agreement portends the danger of crippling sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing and disintegrating of the Kenyan economy”, reads a letter signed by the 27 lobby groups, which include the National Association of Nigerian Traders, Econews Africa, West African Institute for Trade and Agricultural Development, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Haki Madini Tanzania, Tanzania’s Centre for Trade Policy and Development, South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy, Third World Network Africa, Tax Justice Network Africa and ADIR Burundi. They fear the deal would hinder the growth of local industries and lead to the dumping of cheap U.S. imports in the region, with Uganda and Tanzania as the most impacted.

Sources: Standard Media