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. [AGOA.info 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 working on facilitating pathways to having the conversations and consultations …to enable the considerations of an Agoa renewal process,” Ms Tai told reporters in Nairobi.
“Without getting into the danger of trying to predict what the Congress will do, let me say we are committed to our partnership with our members of the Congress … to engage in the work that needs to be done.”
The Agoa treaty was initially intended to last for 15 years from the year 2000 before being extended for a further 10 years in June 2015. [AGOA.info note: AGOA was initially intended to last until 2008, but was renewed first until 2012, then 2015, and finally until 2025).
The agreement allows sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the expansive US market tariff-free.
Ahead of the expiry, the Biden administration has opened fresh talks over a long-term bilateral strategic trade and investment partnership with Kenya.
Kenyan manufacturers in February asked the Investment and Trade Ministry to request Washington to extend the temporary preferential trade deal for another 15 years to create certainty over continued access of products to the US under current terms.
“Kenya should seek an Agoa extension of at least 15 years with enhancements that will enhance and diversify exports. The need for a renewal … by the end of 2023 is critical to provide for market certainty as investment and trade in AGOA sectors slows down two years to the renewal date,” the lobby wrote in the 2023 Manufacturing Priority Agenda.
Kenya Association of Manufacturers, the sector lobby, had said the uncertainty on whether the deal will be renewed or not has prompted investors to hold back billions of shillings in potential investments.