Optimism as Kenya-US trade deal enters 3rd round of negotiations

Monday October 16 2023
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US Trade Representative Katherine Tai addressing journalists at Serena Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya on July 19, 2023. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG


Trade negotiations between Kenya and the United States entered the third round last week, with four items listed for negotiations.

The US-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (Stip) negotiations, held from October 4-7 in Washington DC, covered agriculture and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, services, domestic regulations, anti-corruption; and women, youth among others.

The Kenyan trade team also held discussions with staff from the US Congress and Senate, a significant step in seeking approval from both Houses should the deal be finalised by the United States Trade Representative.

Presidents William Ruto and Joe Biden agreed to expedite the Stip in a telephone discussion at the start of the trade negotiations.

Read: Kenya-US trade deal a potential model for Africa

Domestic regulations


“The meeting discussed agriculture, services, domestic regulations, anti-corruption and matters on women, youth and ‘Others in Trade’. There were also non-text-based discussions on intellectual property rights by technical experts from both countries,” said Rebecca Miano, Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade and Industry. “The negotiations achieved a lot since there was more convergence achieved by the time the negotiations ended.”

Ms Miano revealed that the emerging issues on the renewal of African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) were also discussed.

The Biden Administration has not indicated whether or not it will seek congressional approval for the Stip.

Congress, nevertheless, may assess the talks with regard to its constitutional authority to regulate foreign commerce and congressional oversight of the negotiations.

Kenya is not a major US trade partner in global terms.

In 2022, the United States had a goods trade deficit with Kenya; their exports totalled $604 million and imports $875 million.

Read: US guarded on Kenya trade deal past Agoa expiry

US exports were concentrated in petroleum products ($198 million), aerospace and related parts ($69 million), and chemicals ($41 million).

Imports consisted mostly of apparel ($544 million), fruits and nuts ($128 million), and metal ores ($60 million).

US imports from Kenya have grown by 10 percent annually on average since 2001, when Agoa’s tariff benefits took effect.

The US-Kenya Stip was launched on July 14, 2022, with the goals of increasing investment; promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth; benefiting workers, consumers, and businesses; and supporting African regional economic integration.

The Stip was initiated by Biden’s administration aims to establish trade commitments on various non-tariff trade issues including digital trade, environmental issues, workers’ rights, and trade facilitation.

The Kenyan delegation was led by Trade Principal Secretary Alfred K’Ombudo, while that of the US was led by the Assistant United States Trade Representative Constance Hamilton.