The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Kenya has partnered with the U.S. Africa Business Centre (USAfBC) and Covington to publish a business trade report. The report, titled U.S.-Kenya Trade Negotiations: Implications for the Future of the U.S.-Africa Trade Relationship, examines the challenges and benefits of a potential free trade agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and Kenya.
Speaking during the report launch, AmCham Kenya CEO, Maxwell Okello, highlighted the purpose of the report as, “To contribute to the dialogue on achieving a robust, comprehensive, model FTA, by factual analysis of trade issues and by documenting insights from businesses and stakeholders. This, within the broader context of U.S.-Africa trade, recent and impending developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the negotiation of the AfCFTA and the upcoming expiration of AGOA”.
The report identifies several priorities for an FTA between the United States and Kenya, including
- The introduction of more predictability in U.S.-Kenya commercial relations.
- Promoting economic opportunities for small and medium enterprises in both countries.
- Injecting reciprocity into the U.S.-Kenya commercial relationship and making U.S. goods and services more competitive with products from Europe.
- The economic importance of digital trade during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Addressing Kenya’s ban on most imports of GMOs, an obstacle for agricultural trade.
- The improvement of intellectual property protections and enforcement.
- An opportunity to address challenges in Kenya to international trade, including those relating to the regulatory environment, trade facilitation, intellectual property enforcement, law enforcement, and supply chain policies.
- Maintaining African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) benefits for Kenya while the U.S. seeks to ensure adequate reciprocal market access.
In July 2020, the United States and the Republic of Kenya launched negotiations for a free trade agreement. “A trade agreement between the two countries would be the first of its kind between the U.S. and a sub-Saharan African country and would provide a steady framework for strengthening our relationships with economies across the continent by providing the necessary legal protections and enduring, reciprocal trade,” said Scott Eisner, president of the U.S.-Africa Business Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who co-authored the report.
Witney Schneidman, chair of Covington’s Africa Practice Group and co-author of the report added, “Kenya is a long-standing, strategic U.S. partner in Africa and American investment and bilateral trade are important elements of the U.S.-Kenya relationship. A successful trade agreement between both countries would mark an important development in U.S. trade policy toward Africa in general, and sub-Saharan Africa in particular.”