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Kenya-US complete first round of trade talks

Kenya-US complete first round of trade talks

The Star | 13th February 2023

By Jacktone Lawi

Kenya and the United States have concluded the first round of Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) that will form a basis for future bilateral engagements.

The Kenyan delegation, led by Trade Principal Secretary Alfred K’Ombudo, hope that the five-day talks on the free trade agreement will bear fruits.

The government has been scouting for areas of collaboration that will increase foreign direct investment, promote sustainable and inclusive growth that will also support women and small and medium enterprise businesses.

“During the meetings. the two sides exchanged views on the key concepts to be addressed on almost all of the areas outlined in the 141h July, 2022 joint statement announcing the initiative,’ a statement from the ministry read.

The goal of the Partnership is to increase investment; promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth; benefit workers, consumers and businesses (including micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises), and support African regional economic integration.

Talks between Kenya and the US began in July 2020 during former Presidents Donald Trump and Uhuru Kenyatta’s tenures.

After the US elections in November 2020, Joe Bidens’s administration took time to review part of the pact before initiating a fresh round of negotiations.

In a joint statement released after the meeting, the delegations identified a set of initial issues on which Kenya and the US share the goal of negotiating high-standard commitments in order to achieve economically meaningful outcomes.

Among the initial areas identified are agriculture, anti-corruption, digital trade, environment and climate action, good regulatory practices, micro, small and medium-size enterprises, protecting worker’s rights and protections, services domestic regulation;

The partnership will also support the participation of women, youth and others in trade, standards collaboration, and trade facilitation and customs procedures.

With a bilateral deal, Kenya is keen to tap at least five per cent of the US market, which has the potential to earn the country more than Sh2 trillion in export revenues annually.

In 2021, Kenya’s exports to the US grew to Sh59.5 billion, up from Sh49.3 billion previous years, with increases in the exports of macadamia nuts and articles of apparel and clothing accessories.

The US is the largest export destination of Kenya’s apparel, accounting for over 90 percent of garment exports every year, a sector that stands out as the biggest beneficiary in an improved trade environment under the FTA.

 source: The Star