US and Kenya launch talks on non-tariff trade and investment partnership

WASHINGTON, July 14 (Reuters) – The United States and Kenya on Thursday launched a strategic trade and investment partnership to continue their commitments to boost economic growth, support African regional economic integration and deepen business cooperation.

The U.S. and Kenyan governments will begin work within three months to develop a roadmap for engagement in areas including agricultural security and digital trade standards, climate change, regulatory practices and customs procedures, said the office of the U.S. Trade Representative in a statement.

Kenya has long sought a comprehensive free trade agreement with the United States, and negotiations for such a deal to lower bilateral tariffs were launched by the Trump administration with the East African country in 2020. But the Biden administration, which has shunned traditional trade deals, has not resumed those talks.

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Kenya enjoys substantial duty-free access to the US market through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a trade preference program for countries in sub-Saharan Africa, but it expires in September 2025.

Kenya exported $685.1 million worth of goods to the United States in 2021, more than 75% of which entered duty-free under AGOA, according to the Congressional Research Service, mostly goods. clothing, macadamia nuts, coffee, tea and titanium ores. The United States exported $561.6 million worth of goods to Kenya in 2021, with aircraft, plastics, machinery and wheat among the largest categories.

The partnership announced Thursday by the two countries makes no mention of reducing tariffs or improving market access, in line with other trade dialogues recently launched by the United States with Britain, l European Union and Indo-Pacific countries.

The dialogue with Kenya will include efforts to develop micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and discussions on labor law enforcement and the promotion of workers’ rights – central elements of the Biden administration’s other trade initiatives.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who launched the partnership with Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina during a virtual meeting on Thursday, said in a statement that she wants the partnership to “develop our trade and investment relationship in a way that promotes resilience and facilitates sustainable and sustainable development”. inclusive economic growth”.

“We also hope that this initiative can serve as a model of trade policy engagement in Africa, one of the most dynamic and fastest growing regions in the world,” Tai added.

US Representative Richard Neal, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee focused on trade and taxation, expressed hope that the US-Kenya talks could turn into a comprehensive trade deal. “This initiative will lay the foundation for a comprehensive free trade agreement that includes market access, builds on AGOA, and complements regional and continental integration,” he said in a statement.

Neal said the United States should “embrace” Kenya’s desire to deepen its economic ties with the United States.

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Reporting by David Lawder and Chris Gallagher; edited by Kanishka Singh, Marguerita Choy and Leslie Adler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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