Agoa.info - African Growth and Opportunity Act
TRALAC - Trade Law Centre
You are here: Home/News/Article/US looks beyond delayed free trade deal in commercial ties with Kenya

US looks beyond delayed free trade deal in commercial ties with Kenya

US looks beyond delayed free trade deal in commercial ties with Kenya
Published date:
Monday, 30 May 2022
Author:
Brian Ngugi

The US government is looking beyond a delayed trade deal with Kenya to expand commercial ties between the two countries amid Nairobi’s mounting frustration with Washington's slow pace to conclude the deal.

In a new report submitted to the US Congress by Joe Biden’s top trade diplomat Katherine Tai, the US government revealed it would pursue “other means” of deepening trade engagements with Kenya in the absence of a free trade agreement (FTA).

“(We will) engage with Kenya to deepen bilateral trade, potentially through an FTA or other means, to spur Kenyan development and promote more equitable, worker-centric trade with Kenya,” said the United States Trade Representative Office (USTR) in the report seen by Business Daily outlining its objectives for this year.

Ms Tai, who is the head of USTR, is the US Trade Representative, a member of the US Cabinet who serves as President Biden’s principal trade adviser, negotiator, and spokesperson on trade agenda.

The US government and Kenya early this month held another round of trade talks, which raised hopes of a fresh direction after the Biden administration froze Trump-era negotiations on the free trade agreement.

Missing timelines

But a statement issued from Washington by the US government following the much-awaited fresh talks held in Nairobi between US and Kenyan officials did not provide any timelines for the conclusion of the talks, signalling a persisting deadlock.

“United States Trade Representative for African Affairs Constance Hamilton led a delegation of US officials to Kenya from May 3rd to May 6th and held several successful meetings with officials in the Kenyan government,” said Washington in a statement mid this month.

“The discussions covered a wide range of topics and helped identify key areas of convergence that deepened mutual understanding between [these] countries,” added the note from USTR spokesperson Adam Hodge, without divulging further details on the future of the pact.

The proposed trade deal has faced delays after the Biden administration sought more time to scrutinise the pact negotiated by Donald Trump.

The Biden administration has instead focused on dialogues with trading partners.

Kenya wanted to do a deal with Washington before the expiry of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which allows sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the US without tariffs or quotas until 2025.

Agoa grants 40 African States quota and duty-free access to the US market of more than 6,000 product lines.

Kenya is currently the US’s 96th largest goods trading partner, according to Washington.

Closest allies

Earlier this month, the United States Chamber of Commerce hit out at President Biden administration’s perceived delay in concluding the new trade deal with Kenya, which was initiated by his predecessor Trump more than two years ago.

Terming the Kenya deal as a low-hanging fruit that ought to have been concluded by now, the lobby, which is the biggest and most influential US business group, accused the Biden administration of dilly-dallying in signing the pact.

“While other economies race to ink new deals, the US has not entered an agreement with a trade partner in a decade,” said chamber’s president Suzanne Clark in an update.

“And the current administration consumed by caution and internal reviews is doing little to change that. In fact, it is yet to pick even the lowest hanging fruit such as trade agreements that were already underway with the UK and Kenya, some of our closest allies.”

Kenya and the US on July 8 2020 formally launched negotiations for the bilateral trade agreement.

Read related news articles

US-Kenya: Ruto’s US state visit needs to navigate America’s uncertain political future

President William Ruto will visit the United States on a State Visit in May during what is likely to be one of the most turbulent US elections in memory. Barring some miracle, or catastrophe, the US presidential election will be a showdown between the same two contenders—albeit older and less energetic—as in 2020. The US presidential election in November is the most significant geopolitical risk event of 2024. Its outcome could result in...

26 February 2024

US President Biden to welcome Kenyan President Ruto to the White House in May

President Joe Biden plans to welcome Kenyan President William Ruto to the White House in May, hosting a state visit after reneging on his promise to visit Africa last year. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday that the visit set for May 23 will mark the 60th anniversary of U.S.-Kenya diplomatic relations and "celebrate a partnership that is delivering for the people" of both countries while affirming "our strategic...

18 February 2024

US keen to strengthen Kenya’s public procurement system as trade talks resume [incl. Readout]

The US plans to strengthen Kenya’s public procurement systems in what is seen as a strategy to put in place sound structures ahead of the planned trade pact. This comes as talks on the Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) resumed last week with a meeting in Nairobi. Kenya is pushing for the deal and renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which expires next year. Washington in a statement on Tuesday said the...

07 February 2024

'Nigeria missing as Kenya, Ghana tap AGOA opportunities to boost foreign exchange earnings'

Africa’s biggest economy is still failing to tap the opportunities that the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) present to boost its foreign exchange, amid acute dollar shortages. The AGOA has been on for over twenty-three years as it was enacted in 2020. In 2015, the program was modernised and extended to 2025, implying that there are only about 15 months before the window closes. Some countries have taken advantage of the AGOA more...

05 February 2024

US officials to fast-track talks on Kenya-US Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP)

US authorities will expedite negotiations on the Kenya-US Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) and consider extending the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) beyond its expiry next year. Prime Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Musalia Mudavadi who spoke after a meeting with US Secretary for State Mr Tony Blinken said these initiatives will facilitate expanded duty and quota-free access...

02 February 2024

Kenya, US trade talks resume in Nairobi, go for common ground

The third round of the Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) negotiations between Kenya and the United States opened in Nairobi yesterday. Investment, Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano said Kenya’s delegation is being led by Trade Principal Secretary Alfred K’Ombudo.  The main agenda items for the meeting which wraps up tomorrow revolve around agriculture, good regulatory practices, and workers’ rights...

30 January 2024

Kenya, US talks shift to agriculture

Kenya and the United States are set to begin talks on contentious clauses in a proposed bilateral trade deal amid fears the agreement could flood the market with cheap agricultural imports from America. The delayed third in-person round of talks will focus on agriculture, good regulatory practices and workers’ rights and protections, according to a statement from the US Trade Representative Office (USTR). The three-day negotiations...

27 January 2024

Kenya-US far from trade deal as year ends

Kenya’s hopes of concluding a trade deal with the US by end of this year seem unlikely pushing the long draw talks into next year. The Kenyan government had in March this year expressed optimism of sealing a deal before the year ends, in its quest to secure preferential trade terms way before the expiry of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), in September 2025.  Kenya and the US have held three rounds of in-person negotiations...

21 December 2023

Kenya-US to deepen ICT, apparel and agriculture trade

Kenya and United States are in talks to identify areas of interest in information communication technology (ICT) sector that can interest US firms.  A meeting between The US Ambassador to Kenya, Megan Whitman, and the Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade, and Industry Rebecca Miano, the states sought cooperation in six key areas. The meeting laid the groundwork for an enhanced collaboration between Kenya and the United States in...

09 November 2023

Optimism as Kenya-US trade deal enters 3rd round of negotiations

Trade negotiations between Kenya and the United States entered the third round last week, with four items listed for negotiations. The Kenya-US Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) negotiations, held from October 4-7 in Washington DC, covered agriculture and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, services, domestic regulations, anti-corruption; and women, youth among others. The Kenyan trade team also held discussions with...

16 October 2023

Kenya President Ruto joins US-Kenya business roadshow in San Francisco

Kenya's President William Ruto will address leading US technology companies and investors on Friday at the US-Kenya Business Roadshow in San Francisco organised by the American government’s Prosper Africa initiative. The roadshow - also co-organised by the US Embassy in Nairobi - highlights the business and investment potential in Kenya’s booming tech sector, a statement from the US Embassy in Kenya said. The event is part of a...

15 September 2023

You are here: Home/News/Article/US looks beyond delayed free trade deal in commercial ties with Kenya