Kenya, United States to begin free trade negotiations in July

Kenya will begin its Free Trade negotiations with the United States on July 8th, Trade and Industrialization Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina has said.

The CS made the remarks as she published Kenya’s negotiating objectives with the public. “We are sharing Kenya -US Free Trade Agreement objectives with the public and assure Kenyans that the Government will negotiate a Trade Agreement that will protect Kenyan’s Commercial and Economic Interests post African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which is expected to end in 2025”, she posted on her Facebook account.

She added that in absence of the AGOA, Kenya will trade with the USA under the World Trade Organization (WTO) most Favored Nation arrangement or a Generalized system of Trade Preferences (GSP) which are not favorable to Kenya.

On 27th August 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta and President Trump, announced the commencement of negotiations leading to a conclusion of a Free Trade Area Agreement (FTA). As a first step, both countries set up a Trade and Investment Working Group (TIWG) to spear head the negotiations. The TIWG came up with the four objectives.

The objectives are; Maximizing the remaining years of AGOA; Strengthening commercial cooperation between the two countries; Development of short-term solutions to reduce barriers to trade and investment; and Exploratory talks on future Kenya – U.S.A. bilateral trade and investment relations.

According to the government’s negotiating objectives and principles to guide the negotiations, Kenya will be rooting for an agreement that takes cognizance of trade multilateralism that the country has signed. It reads that the FTA will be WTO compatible and will allow for application of the ‘Special and Differential Treatment’; it will be an instrument for economic and trade development, the negotiations shall respect the commitments that Kenya has taken at Multilateral (WTO), Continental (AfCFTA), Regional (EAC, COMESA, TFTA) and Bilateral level and it will preserve and build on AGOA.

In addition, the negotiations shall cover substantially all trade and any EAC Partner State that did not participate in these negotiations at the outset should be allowed to join the negotiations, subject to terms and conditions already agreed or accede to the concluded FTA

Kenya wants that the scope of the negotiations to include; Goods Market Access; Food and Agriculture/Sanitary & Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures; Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT); Customs Procedures, Rules of Origin and Trade Remedies; Transparency and Legal Issues; Services, Digital Trade, and Investment; Intellectual Property (IP); AGOA Utilization; Textile and Apparel; Commercial Cooperation; Labour; State Owned Enterprises; Environment; and Government Procurement.

The launch of the negotiations will be on 8th July, 2020 and will be followed by the first round of negotiations from 9th to 17th July 2020.

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