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Kenya lobby wants agriculture excluded from Kenya-US trade talks

Kenya lobby wants agriculture excluded from Kenya-US trade talks
Published date:
Wednesday, 12 April 2023
Author:
ACKTONE LAWI

Stakeholders now want the government to exclude agriculture digital trade and anti-corruption in its Strategic Trade and Investments Partnership (STIP) with United States.

Econews Africa, a pan African Research and Advocacy organisation and Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum (KESSFF) say that Kenya will likely be the loser in the pact is signed in its current state.

The STIP is a proposed agreement to act as a successor to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) mechanism that has guided trade between Kenya and US enabling the two countries to trade duty free in selected product bands.

The groups raised concerns with six chapters being negotiated, including agriculture, Digital trade, anti-corruption, good regulatory practices, environment, climate action, and the chapter on protecting workers’ rights and protections.

The executive director of Econews Edgar Ondari said that entering a free trade pact with US creates uneven playing field that leaves poor farmers in poorer countries worse off while large agribusiness reap the benefits of agricultural trade liberalization.

“We do at this moment voice our strong opposition to the ongoing trade negotiations between Kenya and the United States for a Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership. We are particular1y concerned that this is taking place while there are yet to be any stakeholder consultations to determine what should go into the final agreement,” said Ondari.

Kenya has been pushing to become the second African country to have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US with the talks set to resume next week on Monday the 17th.

They argue that the Kenyan Government should consider the likely impact of U.S. agricultural subsidies on the local sector.

“In the case of agriculture especially, we note that an agreement between a developing country like Kenya and a country that is one of the top agricultural exporters in the world is likely to have a significant impact on Kenya” added Ondari.

The AGOA deal grants Kenya and 40 other sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the US market for over 6,500 products.

More than 70 per cent of Kenya's exports to the US are duty-free under AGOA.

It is also the largest export destination of Kenya’s apparel, accounting for more than 90 per cent of garment exports annually, a sector that stands out as the biggest beneficiary in an improved trade environment under the FTA.

They also faulted the move by the state to seek a review of digital tax saying it will be to the benefit of the multinationals while denying the government revenue.

“If AGOA isn’t working, what difference will the STIP make to unlock trade,” Ondari paused.

 

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