TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Members of Congress warn Trump not to push for plastic concessions in Kenya trade talks

Friday, 02 October 2020 Published: | Zach Boren

Source: Unearthed/Greenpeace

Leading US politicians have urged President Trump to oppose the export of more plastic waste to Africa after an investigation by Unearthed and the New York Times revealed oil industry attempts to influence a US-Kenya trade deal.

In a letter released after the investigation landed on the front page of the New York Times, one Republican and 61 Democrats from both the Senate and the House of Representatives said: “The United States’ solution to the plastic pollution crisis cannot be to simply open more markets abroad for plastic products and find destinations to send increasing amounts of plastic waste. T

his is totally at odds with the global policy solution to prevent plastic pollution—not to mention climate change.”

The letter, which was arranged by Senator Tom Udall, includes the signatures of senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, California’s long-time senator Dianne Feinstein, and Earl Blumenauer, chairman of the ways and means subcommittee on trade.

As well as prominent progressive house members Pramila Jayapal, Ayanna Pressley, and Ro Khanna. It includes one Republican: Francis Rooney, a Congressman in Florida.

The story caused public outcry in Kenya, which prompted the country’s environment minister to warn the plastics industry that the government could still impose stricter plastic bans. The Kenyan government banned single plastic from some of the nation’s protected areas in June.


The Unearthed story described how the American Chemistry Council (ACC) – a lobby group representing oil and chemical companies such as Shell, Exxon, Total, DuPont and Dow – has pushed the Trump administration to use the proposed trade deal to expand the plastic and chemical industry across Africa.

Documents show the group also lobbied against changes to an international agreement that puts new limits on plastic waste entering low and middle-income countries.

Several of the companies in the ACC – including Shell, Exxon and Total but not BP – were the founders of a $1bn initiative that pledges to create “a world free of plastic waste”.

Kenyan environmentalists feared the proposals would mean that “Kenya will become a dump site for plastic waste”.


View related news articles

'The opportunities are vast in a potential US-Kenya FTA'

'The opportunities are vast in a potential US-Kenya FTA'

Last year, the U.S. and Kenya announced the launch of free trade negotiations, the first of its kind between the U.S. and a sub-Saharan Africa country. If successful, it would be the most significant trade development in the region since the enactment of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade preference program in 2000. To better understand the key issues...

06 May, 2021
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 a breath of life to US trade deal'

Kenya: 'Uhuru–Blinken talks a 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