US, Kenya launch talks on trade deal

10 February 2020 | Economics

The United States and Kenya on Thursday agreed to launch negotiations that could lead to the first US bilateral trade deal with a Sub-Saharan African country amid growing American concerns about China's investments across the continent.

U president Donald Trump and Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta announced the intention to start formal talks on a trade agreement after meeting at the White House.

Trump directed US trade representative Robert Lighthizer to issue a formal notification to Congress about the talks under the "fast-track" trade negotiating law.

"We believe this agreement with Kenya will complement Africa's regional integration efforts," Lighthizer said in a statement, predicting broad bipartisan support from Congress.

AGOA

Kenyatta told a forum at the US Chamber of Commerce his country was keen to secure its economic future ahead of the expiry of the US Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allows Sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the United States without tariffs or quotas until 2025. Both sides were eager to move forward quickly, he said.

He said a new trade deal could make Kenya a hub for U.S. companies doing business in Africa and beyond, reenergising close ties established during Kenya's struggle for independence.

"It is this shared common value - belief in freedom, democracy and enterprise - that makes me believe that the United States can and should be the partner of choice for the African continent," Kenyatta said.

Myron Brilliant, head of international affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce, said Kenya could serve as a key gateway for US companies seeking to expand in Africa. US-Kenyan trade amounts to US$1 billion now, but could grow substantially. – Nampa/Reuters

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