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 trade between the two countries.
He said the partnership also aims at boosting trade and investment relations by anchoring the same in a formal binding bilateral agreement.
“There is significant progress in several areas of coverage which include digital trade, services domestic regulations, standards collaboration, micro small and medium enterprises, labour, agriculture, women and youth and anti-corruption measures,” said Kuria.
The CS said the areas of focus will help to create a more conducive environment for trade and investment thereby boosting economies in both countries.
Kuria added that the Kenya government has made the process participatory by engaging all stakeholders.
The CS was speaking on Thursday evening at a Nairobi hotel during a communiqué on the status of the STIP negotiations while in the company of Constance Hamilton, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Africa and Chief Negotiator for the USA, Principal Secretary Trade Alfred K’Ombudo, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Kenya Ambassador David Gacheru and negotiators from the two countries.
He commended the US team for their hard work, commitment and for sharing texts in the areas of Agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Anti-corruption and Services Domestic Regulation.
“There is need to move forward conceptual engagements on the environment, trade facilitation and customs procedures and good regulatory practices into text-based negotiations,” added the CS.
Kuria also suggested that the remaining areas of negotiations be text-based due to the tight timelines, noting that the Kenya government has prioritised the conclusion of the negotiation by December 2023.
“We recognise that time is of the essence, and we are fully committed to ensuring that our people enjoy the benefits of this agreement as soon as possible,” he stated.
The CS said to enhance trade and investment in the counties, the government will put in place Export Processing Zones (EPZ) in Eldoret and Busia and promised that next week he will gazette the establishment of EPZs in Murang’a, Sagana and Nakuru to boost the country’s economy at both the national and county level.
He at the same time urged Governors to safeguard the investments the government is setting at the counties.
The US chief negotiators team has been in the country from April 17 to 21, 2023 for the second round of STIP negotiations with the Kenya team.
The current existing framework of the African Growth and Opportunity Act(AGOA) is set to expire hence the need for the adoption of a longer-term and to secure bilateral trade agreement.