The United States and Kenya are working to conclude a free trade agreement that will complement regional integration efforts within the East African Community (EAC) and the African Continental Free Trade Area. In recent months, the United States has begun negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement with Kenya. These negotiations are in line with the current government`s vision for trade reciprocity, not unilateral trade preference programs. Although these negotiations are the first bilateral trade agreement between the United States and a sub-Saharan African country… “We believe that this agreement with Kenya will complement Africa`s regional integration efforts, including in the East African Community and the pioneering African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the United States is pledging additional support to help AfCFTA reach its full potential.” At this stage, the political commitment to negotiations between the two heads of state and government is of the utmost importance. President Uhuru Kenyatta is one of the few African leaders to have established a positive relationship with President Trump and is the only African leader to have made two visits to the White House. Following its second meeting in February, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce established a Kenyan U.S. trade task force to build mutual trust and find common ground between the parties on key trade priorities for the economy. It is not known how much a new trade pact would move the needle. Kenya has already prioritized access to the U.S.

market through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a program launched in 2000 that eliminates import tariffs on products from dozens of African countries. Kenya is one of agoA`s top five exporters to the United States and mainly sends clothing, cocoa, nuts, coffee and tea. It imports American aircraft, machinery, agricultural products and plastics. As an investment vehicle, the US Kenyan agreement should be modelled on the Jordanian model of “qualified industrial zones,” which has increased bilateral trade between the two states tenfold since its inception in 2001. On February 6, President Uhuru Kenyatta met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House. At the end of the meeting, the two presidents announced their goal of seeking a free trade agreement between the two countries. In March 2020, President Trump informed Congress of his intention, the main objective being invoked as the need to reach an agreement on the goals… Created by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Co-operatives with the support of the Hub of the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Kenya National African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Strategy and Action Plan (2018 – 2023) proposes strategies and measures to increase exports to the United States (U.S.) and is informed by an analysis of the priority sectors identified. The global approach…

While these negotiations are expected to result in the first bilateral trade agreement with a sub-Saharan African country, negotiators will face a number of challenges, including: trade between the two countries is currently about $1 billion a year, making Kenya barely the 100 largest trading partners in the United States. While the United States is an important destination for Kenyan exports, Kenya`s overall trade in the United States is overshadowed by trade with other partners, including China, of which more than $3.6 billion worth of goods are imported annually.