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Kenya-US trade talks inching closer to completion – Cabinet Sec Miano

Kenya-US trade talks inching closer to completion – Cabinet Sec Miano
Published date:
Thursday, 25 April 2024

Kenya and the US are inching closer to reaching a trade deal, Investments, Trade and Industry CS Rebecca Miano has hinted, meaning a pact could be in place by end of this year.

This, even as the US expresses confidence that the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), set to expire next year, will be renewed to allow Sub-Sharan nations continue to enjoy preferential export terms to the US market.

The in-person talks between Kenya and US trade experts are headed into the fifth round, after conclusion of the fourth round in Washington D.C, held between April  2 and 12th.

According to CS Miano, the conversations are at an advanced stage with negotiators keen to fast-track the process, as agreed by Presidents William Ruto and Joe Bidden in October last year.

“Several grounds have been covered and inching closer to completion,” the CS said yesterday, during this year’s American Chamber of Commerce in Kenya (AmCham) 2024 Business Summit.

This points to a possible deal before the year ends, with Kenya seen to be keen to have a deal in place before the US goes into the November elections.

Agriculture, environment and workers’ rights took centre stage this month’s Washington talks.

During the 11-day negotiating round, the two sides also discussed textual issues on anticorruption; and Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises, and continued conceptual discussions on inclusivity. 

The US delegation was led by Assistant United States Trade Representative (USTR) Constance Hamilton while the Kenyan delegation was led by Principal Secretary for Trade Alfred K’Ombudo. 

There have been concerned that this year’s US Presidential elections could further derail the process, with a possibility of pushing talks into 2025 when Agoa expires.

 “With campaigns in the US heating up, there are concerns this process could slow down,” a ministry official familiar with the trade talks, told the Star, “We hope a way forward is reached by the time the US goes into elections.”

The US has been pushing for transparent and competitive procurement in Kenya's public government.

It also wants effective protection of intellectual property rights, favourable sanitary and phytosanitary measure among other interests.

This, as it seeks to secure business for US companies and a comprehensive market access for agricultural goods in Kenya, by reducing or eliminating tariffs.

Kenya has since entered into a grant deal with the US securing approximately Sh198 million in technical assistance towards strengthening the country’s public procurement.

CS Miano yesterday said the government is working on a common portal that will hold all government tenders, allowing companies easy access to information and application.

This, even as she called on US companies to invest more in the country, where the government has put in place and continues to put in place measures to ease processes and cost of doing business.

“We want to promote transparency and competitiveness in government procurement to allow American firms take up tender opportunities in Kenya,” CS Miano said.

During this year’s AmCham Summit, Kenya is targeting deals in agriculture, ICT, energy, textile, green energy and manufacturing, with a value exceeding the $700 million (Sh94.5 billion) worth of deals sealed in last year’s summit.

Meanwhile, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who is in the country on official visit, said the US is working on  modalities for the possible renewal of Agoa.

“Agoa is a priority for President Biden’s administration. We are working with the members of congress to ensure that happens (renewal),” Raimondo, who will hold talks with President Ruto, said.

African states wants Agoa extended by a further 10 years.

US ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman also confirmed that renewal of Agoa was being worked on.

While Kenya enjoys duty free access to the US market under Agoa, which gives up to 6,400 product lines access to the US market, it is keen on the Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) whose talks kicked off in July 14, 2022, to increase investment, promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, benefit workers, consumers, and businesses and support African regional economic integration.

It had targeted to have a deal by December last year.

The change in administrations in both countries has had a significant impact on the process which was mooted in 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic equally having its fair share of stalling the process.

Negotiations began back in July 2020 during former Presidents Donald Trump and Uhuru Kenyatta's tenures.

After the US elections in November 2020, Bidens’s administration took time to review part of the pact before initiating a fresh round of talks.

Kenya then went into an election in August 2022, which saw then Deputy President William Ruto ascend to power, with his administration taking over the negotiations as the two administrations agreed on seek a Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership.

“The chief negotiators are committed to a swift conclusion of the agreement,” a statement from Kenya’s trade ministry reads in part.

With a bilateral deal, Kenya is keen to tap at least five per cent of the US market, which has the potential to earn the country more than Sh2 trillion in export revenues annually.

More than half of Kenyan exports to the US are comprised of textile and apparel, macadamia, coffee, titanium ores and concentrates, and black tea.

The agricultural sector, manufacturing, textile, and mining will be among the biggest winners if a deal is struck, with Kenya also keen to rope in SMEs and build up Special Economic Zones and Export Processing Zones for increased exports, as it cuts its import bill.

  Download summaries and readouts from the talks in the US-Kenya STIP section here on

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