- African Growth and Opportunity Act
TRALAC - Trade Law Centre
You are here: Home/News/Article/US, Kenya teams open trade talks amid smallholder farmers’ protest

US, Kenya teams open trade talks amid smallholder farmers’ protest

US, Kenya teams open trade talks amid smallholder farmers’ protest
Published date:
Monday, 17 April 2023

The administration of Kenya’s President William Ruto has begun the negotiation round of the proposed bilateral deal with the United States, which will replace the more-than-two-decade-old African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) amid protestations from smallholder farmers.

The four-day talks, which kicked off in Nairobi on Monday, follow the round of conceptual discussions held in Washington between February 6 and 10.

President Ruto’s negotiating team, led by Trade PS Alfred K’Ombudo, and the Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa Constance Hamilton are engaging on 11 pillars of the proposed US-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP).

Areas of focus

The areas of focus include facilitating trade in agriculture, fostering consumer, business and worker trust in the digital economy, protecting the environment, integrating micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) into international trade as well as preventing and combating corruption.

But the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum has protested at the Trade ministry over the lack of stakeholder engagement ahead of the negotiations despite the US counterpart having held the same.

“The government has not shared with farmers or any other stakeholders the negotiating texts proposed by either Kenya or the US. We do not understand why the texts cannot be shared,” said the lobby in a statement.

“There is a need to demystify the issues at play to enable farmers to understand what is at stake.”

Sought public views

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) office sought public views on the proposed deal with Kenya between August and September last year.

The Biden administration has made it clear that negotiations with partners, which include Kenya, will include “provisions intended to eliminate or reduce non-tariff barriers that can hamper market access for US agricultural products”.

“The administration will seek to include in these agreements enforceable provisions that build on WTO (World Trade Organisation) obligations, including provisions to ensure that sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures are science-based, developed through transparent, predictable processes, and implemented in a nondiscriminatory manner,” the USTR wrote in the 2023 Trade Policy to the Congress on March 1.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai last month said that the Biden administration will “aim to make rapid progress” in negotiations with Kenya in 2023.

Model for engagement

“The Biden administration views this approach as one to be built upon to include other areas of mutual interest and to serve as a model for engagement with other willing countries on the African continent,” Ms Tai wrote in the report to the US lawmakers.

Trade between the two countries is tilted in favour of the US, which exported goods worth Ksh93.43 billion ($692 million) last year while buying merchandise valued at Ksh76 billion ($563 million) from Kenya.

Kenya largely exports articles of apparel under the Agoa pact, while mainly importing pharmaceutical products and aircraft parts from the world’s largest economy.

The current Agoa deal, a preferential trade programme that allows duty- and quota-free access to the US market for sub-Saharan African countries, will expire in September 2025.

The discussions for the proposed bilateral deal started in earnest in August 2018 when former President Uhuru Kenyatta made a bilateral visit to the White House.

The former presidents of the respective countries — Mr Kenyatta and Donald Trump — at the time identified economic development and trade as the pillar of the “strategic relationship” between Kenya and the US.


   Read more in the US-Kenya SITP Section 

Read related news articles

Kenya-US trade agreement 'may need a rethink on workers'

The US and Kenya announced a trade and investment partnership in July 2022. Talks have been progressing on the way forward in nine areas, including agriculture, anti-corruption, digital trade, environment and climate change action, and workers’ rights and protections. The Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) will be the first significant trade partnership between the US and a country in sub-Saharan Africa. Countries in the...

16 August 2023

Biden cranks up diplomatic charm offensive in Kenya

In a span of two weeks, US President Joe Biden has dispatched two senior members of his administration to Nairobi with a firm message to President William Ruto on good governance, human rights and a subtle push on the geopolitics surrounding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And Kenya, a longtime Western ally, is under pressure to maintain trading ties with the US. The timing of the visit was significant as Russia hosted over 17 African...

29 July 2023

US says AGOA renewal still an option for Kenya

The US says it may consider proposing to its lawmakers an extension of duty- and quota-free access to its market for sub-Saharan countries when the current deal expires in May 2025. [ note: AGOA removes standard import tariffs, but not quotas).  United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, said another renewal of the preferential trade programme depends on the US Congress, but her office could facilitate it. “We are...

22 July 2023

Some uncertainty as negotiations on the US-Kenya trade agreement proceed without a fixed timetable

A recent report has shown that the United States is unsure when discussions for a free trade agreement with Kenya would be completed, notwithstanding the fact that Nairobi previously stated that the talks would be completed by December. The United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who wrapped up a three-day visit in Nairobi on Wednesday, stated that the US negotiators do not have a timetable for ending discussions or signing the...

20 July 2023

Kenya's president meets US delegates on trade and investments

Kenyan President William Ruto has today held talks with US Trade Representative, Ambassador Katherine Tai. The discussions were based on US trade policy. Ruto said that the country is ready to strengthen the already existing relations between the two nations. "We will stretch our ties beyond the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in the wake of advanced technology and climate change, for the full exploitation of our trade potential,"...

19 July 2023

US trade rep in Nairobi as Kenya's solo deals worry the EAC block [incl. Readouts]

The US trade representative is in Nairobi to co-lead a meeting that seeks Kenya's partnership in a fresh trade deal. The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA Council) is pursuing various agreements even as regional peers express concern over Kenya's solo approach.  Yesterday, Trade Representative, Katherine Tai met patron circle members of the American Chamber of Commerce-Kenya (AmCham Kenya) ahead of today's...

17 July 2023

USTR releases summaries from US-Kenya STIP negotiations

Consistent with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to the highest levels of transparency in trade agreement negotiations, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released summaries of texts  ( Download the document alongside or in the Kenya-US STIP section) proposed by the U.S. side during the first negotiating round of the United States-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP),...

23 May 2023

Why Africa, why Kenya? Remarks by US Ambassador to Kenya

Thank you, Scott, for the kind introduction. It is a pleasure to partner with the Prosper Africa initiative to drive investment in Kenya and countries across the African continent. I am happy to kick off our U.S.-Kenya Business Roadshow with all of you today, and to announce that we will be partnering with Prosper Africa throughout the year to engage businesses and investors in cities across the United States. Our next stops include San...

26 April 2023

Kenya-USA: Joint Statement on the third US-Kenya bilateral strategic dialogue [incl. VIDEO]

The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America and the Kenya on the occasion of U.S.-Kenya Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. on April 24, 2023. Begin Text: The Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Kenya held the third iteration of the U.S.-Kenya Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. on April 24, 2023.  The U.S.-Kenya Strategic...

24 April 2023

Kenya, US advance talks on trade and investment partnership

Kenya and the United States of America have successfully completed the second round of negotiations on Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP), an agreement that aims to strengthen the two countries’ bilateral and investment relations. Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria said a lot of progress has been made in the negotiations, an indication that both states are committed to enhancing...

22 April 2023

You are here: Home/News/Article/US, Kenya teams open trade talks amid smallholder farmers’ protest