US-Kenya free trade deal seeking Kenyan, US firms input to ratify proposal

President Uhuru Kenyatta with US President Donald Trump. [Photo courtesy]

Following an announcement a fortnight ago that Kenya and the US are engaged in talks on a proposed trade deal, firms from both countries have been asked to share their ideas on the same.

A free window to share ideas on the proposed trade deal between the two countries has been opened until April 28 when those who may have ideas are required to submit them in writing, reports Business Daily.

The US Trade Police Staff Committee (TPSC) will thereafter, hold a public hearing on this in Washington DC.

“The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is seeking public comments on a proposed US-Kenya trade agreement, including US interests and priorities, to develop the US negotiating positions,” USTR Trade Policy Staff Committee chair Edward Gresser said Monday in a public notice.

“You can provide comments in writing and orally at a public hearing. The Administration’s aim in negotiations with Kenya is to address both tariff and non-tariff barriers and to achieve free, fair, and reciprocal trade,” added the public notice.

The trade talks were touched off by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to US President Donald Trump in February 2020. After Uhuru’s visit, the US Congress was informed of the country’s willingness to negotiate a free trade deal with Kenya.

The negotiation on a raft of proposals to the govern the free trade between the two countries have already started with a section of Kenyan firms discounting claims that the trade agreement could be a leeway to flood Kenyan markets with cheap goods produced by US factories.

Kenya Private Sector Alliance CEO Carole Kariuki maintained that the US-Kenya trade agreement will open a new frontier for Kenyans to export more and in return, get imports from the US.

“Kenya should draw lessons from Morocco on the challenges and opportunities that are emerging with the free trade agreement between them and the US to learn and eventually do better,” Ms Kariuki remarked last week.

Kenya’s trade with the US through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) has in the past yielded to exports to the US totalling to Sh32.7 billion in 2017.

In 2015, exports to the US through Agoa hit an all-time high at Sh35.2 billion according to the Economic Survey Data.

The Agoa deal which has 40 Africa states onboard expires in 2025.

African countries under Agoa enjoy duty-free access to the US market in over 6,000 production lines.