Citizen Digital - 18 January 2021
Kenya gears for third round talks on US trade deal
By Kepha Muiruri
Kenya is gearing for a third round talks with the United States on the proposed free trade agreement (FTA).
Trade and Industrialization Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina says the country is ready to return to the negotiating table once the new administration in the US settles.
“We expect to get into more rounds of negotiations as the new administration settles down having already had two rounds,” the CS said on Monday.
Kenya begun discussions on a potential trade pact with the US in March last year following a joint announcement by President Donald Trump and President Uhuru Kenyatta in February.
The new trade pact is seen as a replacement to current trade terms contained in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which expires in 2025.
Kenya will be seeking to iron out terms under the new trade engagement before a potential announcement on a deal towards the end of 2021.
Among the issues Kenya will be seeking to bury include the sealing of terms acceptable by its regional peers who have previously cautioned the country against falling head first to unequal trading terms.
Among entities to express the concern is the East African Trade Network (EATN) which warned Kenya of exposing is nascent industry should it take up biased terms to trade.
The government has however assured its local industries and regional peers of reaching win-win terms with the pact seen as a benchmark to future trade relation between the US and the rest of Africa.
If successful, Kenya’s trade pact with the US will be the second deal between the economic powerhouse and an individual African country since Morocco in 2004.
Kenya will be eyeing a greater piece of trade between itself and the US from the current annual value of Ksh.51.9 billion as of 2019 data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS)
Kenya presently enjoys a nearly balanced trade with the US which was valued last at Ksh.114.2 billion to include Ksh.62.3 billion in Kenyan imports from the US.
The new trade agreement will be hot on the heels of Kenya’s new trade deal with the UK from which the country rubberstamped free market access for its goods following Brexit.
According to CS Maina, Kenya is seeking an investment lift from the continued pursuit of trade pacts.
“The motivation for getting into these new trading agreements is to create space for both local and foreign investors with a promise of a secure market,” she added.