President Trump’s administration has invited American and Kenyan companies to submit their views on the proposed free trade agreement between the US and Kenya.
This comes as the two countries prepare to open formal negotiations on the trade deal following last month’s meeting between Trump and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta at the White House in Washington, DC.
The companies have been asked to make written submissions before April 28th, when the US Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) will hold a public hearing in Washington DC.
“The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is seeking public comments on a proposed US-Kenya trade agreement, including US interests and priorities, to develop the US negotiating positions,” USTR Trade Policy Staff Committee chair Edward Gresser said in a public notice on Monday.
“You can provide comments in writing and orally at a public hearing. The Administration’s aim in negotiations with Kenya is to address both tariff and non-tariff barriers and to achieve free, fair, and reciprocal trade.”
This month, Trump sent a notification to the US Congress revealing his administration’s intention to commence trade talks with Kenya.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, we look forward to negotiating and concluding a comprehensive, high-standard agreement with Kenya that can serve as a model for additional trade agreements across Africa," a letter sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Charles Shumer by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer read.
It added: "Kenya is an important regional leader, a strategic partner of the United States and a commercial hub that can provide substantial opportunities for US trade and investment."
Trade exchange between Kenya and the US presently stands at about $1 billion a year with over 70 percent of Kenya's export into the American market in 2018, worth $466 million, entering under AGOA.
Last month, the Kenyan cabinet approved the commencement of talks with the US for the trade pact. In a statement, State House said the agreement would help Kenyan goods to have smooth access to the expansive US market especially as the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) comes to an end.
Companies operating under the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) last month threw their weight behind the planned trade pact and dismissed fears that cheaply-produced US goods could kill their businesses.
“Kenya should draw lessons from Morocco on the challenges and opportunities that are emerging with the free trade agreement between them and the US to learn and eventually do better,” said Carole Kariuki, the CEO of Kepsa.