TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Details of US-Kenya FTA negotiating principles

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Source: USTR

On March 17, 2020, the Trump Administration notified Congress that the President intends to negotiate a trade agreement with the Republic of Kenya, in accordance with section 105(a)(1)(A) of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act).

This notification was made following a February 6, 2020, meeting at the White House between President Trump and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta where the two presidents agreed to pursue negotiations on a trade agreement between the United States and Kenya.

In pursuing negotiations on a trade agreement with Kenya, the Office of the United State Trade Representative (USTR) is responding to Congress’ support, as expressed in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), to negotiate reciprocal and mutually beneficial trade agreements that serve the interests of both the United States and the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

The vision is to conclude an agreement with Kenya that can serve as a model for additional agreements in Africa, leading to a network of agreements that contribute to Africa’s regional integration objectives. In addition, the goal is to conclude an agreement that builds on the objectives of AGOA and will serve as an enduring foundation to expand U.S.-Africa trade and investment across the continent.

The USTR seeks to support higher-paying jobs in the United States and grow the U.S. economy by improving U.S. opportunities for trade and investment with Kenya. The current health crisis and economic challenges posed by COVID-19 underscore the desire to strengthen the US economic relationship with Kenya and lay the foundations for stronger, more resilient economies to address the current and future health crises.

The specific objectives of the USTR for this negotiation will comply with the specific objectives set forth by Congress in section 102 of the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act. In doing so, the aim is to address both tariff and non-tariff barriers and to achieve fairer, more balanced trade.

As a part of the process of formulating these objectives, on March 23, 2020, the Office of the USTR solicited public comments by Federal Register notice regarding objectives and positions for a U.S.-Kenya trade agreement and received over 5,000 submissions.

  • Download the USTR document setting out the negotiating principles at this link
  • Follow developments in the US-Kenya FTA section here


Summary of Specific Negotiating Objectives for the Initiation of United States-Kenya Negotiations


  • Seek a mutually beneficial trade agreement that can serve as a model for additional agreements across Africa.
  • Support regional integration, where appropriate.
  • Build on the objectives of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, promote good governance and the rule of law.

Trade in Goods

  • Ensure fair, balanced, and reciprocal trade with Kenya.
  • Increase transparency in import and export licensing procedures.
  • Discipline import and export monopolies to prevent trade distortions.

Trade in Services

  • Secure commitments from Kenya to provide fair and open conditions for services trade, including through:
  • Rules that apply to all services sectors, including rules that prohibit:
  • Discrimination against foreign services suppliers;
  • Restrictions on the number of services suppliers in the market; and
  • Requirements that cross-border services suppliers establish a local presence.
  • Specialized sectoral disciplines, including rules to help level the playing field for U.S. delivery services suppliers in Kenya; and
  • Where any exceptions from core disciplines are needed, the negotiation, on a negative list basis, of the narrowest possible exceptions with the least possible impact on U.S. firms.
  • Retain flexibility for U.S. non-conforming measures, including U.S. non-conforming measures for maritime services.
  • Improve the transparency and predictability of regulatory procedures in Kenya.

View related news articles

Report: A look at the potential benefits and challenges of a US – Kenya trade agreement

Report: A look at the potential benefits and challenges of a US – Kenya trade agreement

The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Kenya has partnered with the U.S. Africa Business Centre (USAfBC) and Covington to publish a business trade report. The report, titled US-Kenya Trade Negotiations: Implications for the Future of the U.S.-Africa Trade Relationship, examines the challenges and benefits of a potential free trade agreement (FTA) between the...

30 April, 2021
Kenya: 'Uhuru–Blinken talks breath of life to US trade deal'

Kenya: 'Uhuru–Blinken talks breath of life to US trade deal'

Trade talks between Kenya and the US could resume soon following Tuesday's virtual meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. This is after a five-month break occasioned by change of g-uard in the US as President Joe Biden took over from Donald Trump after last November’s elections. The settling down of the Biden administration put...

29 April, 2021
'Hope for Kenya-US trade deal as talks resume'

'Hope for Kenya-US trade deal as talks resume'

Kenya and the United States have resumed talks on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) ongoing since last year. Kenya's Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina and US Trade representative Katherine Tai held talks that focussed on the importance of the trade relations between Kenya and Africa as important partners to the US. The bilateral trade talks paused in the wake of American...

08 April, 2021
'Biden Administration dampens Kenya's hopes for bilateral trade deal'

'Biden Administration dampens Kenya's hopes for bilateral trade deal'

The Biden administration's plans to review foreign trade policy and refocus it on America's economic recovery have thrown long-running free trade negotiations with Kenya into disarray. In a development that casts doubts on the future of a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with Kenya, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai has informed Kenyan Minister...

05 April, 2021
US Chamber drives for Kenya-US trade deal

US Chamber drives for Kenya-US trade deal

The United States Chamber of Commerce has urged President Joe Biden to seal a new trade deal with Kenya, which was initiated by his predecessor Donald Trump. The biggest and most influential US business lobby group wants the ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two nations concluded fast to pave the way for uptake of business and investment...

02 February, 2021
Kenya–US trade talks on hold, awaits Biden's administration

Kenya–US trade talks on hold, awaits Biden's administration

Kenya hopes to resume trade talks with the US after change of guard at the White House with President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.  The country is optimistic of speedy resumption of negotiations, with hopes the Biden administration will warm up to Africa, and Kenya as an investment destination and trade partner. The negotiations for a Free Trade...

21 January, 2021