Kenya mulls five pillar US driven pact

Thursday, April 27th, 2023 10:30 | By
Ruto risks US sanctions as he announces he's willing to buy fuel from Russia 
President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel meet US President Joe Biden at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77) in New York, USA on September 23, 2022. PHOTO/State House Kenya.

Talks on the Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) deal between Kenya the United States (US) have been reconfigured with the joint areas of deliberations being narrowed down to five ahead of the final signing in December 2023.

The STIP deal that was launched in July 2022 outlined 11 focus areas of mutual interest between the two sides but this was consolidated during the second round of the 4-day negotiations held between April 17 and April 20.

Five new five areas of focus include  Pillar One – Economic Prosperity, Trade, and Investment – which will prioritise trade relationships targeting to create over one million jobs annually in Kenya and reduce food insecurity over the next five years.

Two-way trade boost

“The United States and Kenya commit to further increase two-way trade and investment cooperation through the Kenya-U.S. Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership and by prioritizing economic and commercial programs,” a joint statement by Kenya and US reads in part.

Defence cooperation is embedded in the second pillar while pillar three contains issues of Democracy, Governance, and Civilian Security. Under the fourth pillar, Nairobi and Washington will tackle multilateral and regional issues, especially humanitarian crisis caused by war and/or hunger.

Health, a key area of interest for US investors, has been placed in the fifth pillar. There are ongoing collaborations in strengthening Kenya’s health systems and management of communicable and non-communicable diseases, streamlining the health sector supply chain, and establishing pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity in Nairobi.

“We have given ourselves only up to six weeks to pass legislation that President [William] Ruto announced at the side-lines of Amcham that are going to ensure that we provide an environment that is really good for your business,” Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria said on Tuesday this week in New York during the U.S.-Kenya Business Roadshow.

Previous deliberations

The previous deliberations earmarked by various economic and social sectors namely agriculture, anti-corruption, digital trade, environment and climate change action, Standards Collaboration, and Trade Facilitation and Customs Procedures. Others were supporting the Participation of Women, Youth in trade.

The third round of physical negotiation is set to take place in July, with Kenya expected to address regulatory hitches to pave the way for the final STIP signature by the end of this year.

The STIP consolidation comes amid disgruntlement among Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) who want the details of the negotiations made public and enjoin the negotiations to protect the interest of Kenya’s private sector.

CSOs, who were locked out of last week’s STIP talks in Nairobi, have been pushing for the dropping of clauses around agriculture, digital trade, and regulatory practice provisions that were part of the previous 11 pillars.

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