Kenya-U.S. trade deal also raises eyebrows

Kenya is expected to resume negotiations with the United States on a potential economic partnership agreement imminently.

Last week, the Ministry of Trade and Industrialization confirmed preparation for a third round of talks upon the confirmation of President’s Biden choice of his country’s trade representative.

“The negotiations are currently underway and we await for the confirmation of the next US trade representative by Congress before resuming businesses,” said Trade Principal Secretary Johnson Weru.

Despite optimism on the closing of the deal this year, the ongoing trade negotiations have also come under even sharper scrutiny by stakeholders even as the more pressing probe is currently focused on Kenya’s pact with the United Kingdom.

Among the top concerns in the US pact includes the economic power house push for the liberalization of the local agricultural sector.

An analysis of the ongoing negotiations by lobby group EcoNews Africa for instance raises key questions including the implications of liberalizing agriculture to farmers in not just Kenya but the East African region.

Further, the analysis raises queries on the undermining of food security in the region along-side cost and benefits of liberalized agricultural trade.

Nevertheless, PS Weru has insisted that both pacts sought (UK&US) will seek to maximize benefits to Kenya.

“We are looking keenly into what each party offers the other so that we do not end up in a situation of disadvantage. We are going to promote Kenya and Africa in all of our negotiations,” added PS Weru.

The National Assembly Trade Committee is expected to complete its probe of the Kenya-UK trade pact to include the completion of a public hearing process on Thursday before tabling its recommendations to the House.

Meanwhile, the nomination of Katherine Tai as the US next trade representative is nearing completion following her unanimous approval by the US Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday.

In February last year, the US announced its intent to initiate trade agreement negotiations with Kenya after a meeting between then President Donald Trump and President Kenyatta in Washington.

The commencement of the negotiations subsequently began in July and were originally scheduled to close within 12 months.

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