Kenyatta to meet Trump for trade talks as ties improve

Tuesday August 07 2018

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta with United States President Donald J Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit at the Greek Theatre in Taomarina, Italy, on May 26, 2017. Mr Kenyatta has been invited for a historic visit to the US for a meeting with President Trump on August 26, 2018. PHOTO | FILE | PSCU

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will hold talks with his US counterpart Donald Trump on August 27 in Washington, the White House confirmed on Monday.

The meeting will focus on growing trade between the two countries and finding a long-lasting solution to insecurity in neighbouring Somalia and South Sudan.

“The meeting between the two leaders will reaffirm the long-standing relationship between the United States and Kenya as a cornerstone of peace and stability in Africa and the broader Indo-Pacific region,” Mr Trump’s press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

“President Trump and President Kenyatta will explore ways to bolster trade and investment between the two countries, while strengthening security cooperation.”

Trade between the two countries is tilted towards the US, with Nairobi buying goods worth Ksh57 billion ($567 million) last year against exports – largely textile and apparels – valued at Ksh47 billion ($467 million), official statistics show.

Washington views Kenya as key in strengthening its ties with Africa as Mr Trump appears to be moving to mend fences with the continent he reportedly described as a collection of “sh**hole” countries on January 11.


Ms Sanders described Kenya as a “vital partner” of the US and that Mr Trump was looking forward to “discussing ways to broaden the strategic partnership based on our shared democratic values and mutual interests”.

The Trump administration has been warming up to Nairobi in recent months, with two high-powered delegation on trade and security holding talks with top leadership in Nairobi.

The US Presidential Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) – a think-tank which advises Mr Trump through his Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross – pitched camp in Nairobi from June 27-29.

The meeting culminated in signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU), which set out a framework where Kenya and US authorities will be engaging each other on investment opportunities.

US-Africa Command Commander Thomas Waldhauser also held talks with Mr Kenyatta on July 11 at State House focusing on security issues in war-torn South Sudan and Somalia.

US Under-Secretary for Commerce Gil Kaplan, who led the delegation of about 60 business executives, made it clear American firms were keen on cutting deals with Nairobi under the ambitious “Big Four” plan.

“Kenya is a wonderful partner for further trade, development and commercial relations,” Mr Kaplan said during the signing of the MoU.

“We have been incredibly impressed by the sophistication and the thoroughness that they have looked at the problems that they are facing.”

Under the “Big Four” plan state resources are being concentrated in manufacturing, food security, healthcare and affordable housing as well as enabling infrastructures such as roads, modern railway and power.