Kenya to conclude free trade talks with US, Uhuru says
John Otini and PSCU
Kenya is determined to conclude the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the United States despite a change of power to president elect Joe Biden, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
He said Kenya will be keen to secure gains made under President Donald Trump even though the president elect has indicated that he will repeal several of Trump’s policy decisions.
Kenyatta said the FTA will build on the successes achieved under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) by ushering in better and bigger trade opportunities.
“We appreciate what has been achieved through Agoa, but it is time we moved to much more closer trade arrangements that are mutually beneficial.
We will not lose focus on concluding the FTA,” the President said when he bade farewell to outgoing US ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter.
Data from the Agoa website shows that Kenya’s total exports to the US were valued at $517.6 million in 2019 with the main exports being apparel.
President Kenyatta thanked the US government for the support Kenya continues to receive in the security sector especially the fight against terrorism and the response against Covid-19.
McCarter thanked President Kenyatta and the people of Kenya for making his two-year tour of duty in the country successful.
“I am a fortunate man to have served Kenya as US ambassador. I will be visiting Kenya from time to time and I hope I will be able to bring more investors,” he told the President.
At the meeting, also attended by Head of Public Service Dr Joseph Kinyua and Foreign Affairs CS Amb Raychelle Omamo, the President wished the outgoing US envoy success in his future endeavours.
Kenya and the US launched trade negotiations on July 8, 2020 with the aim of crafting a comprehensive FTA that will serve as a model for similar pacts across Africa.
Kenya is also at the same time is working on a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom to ensure tariff free access to UK markets. The UK is Kenya’s fifth largest export destination.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Kenyatta agreed on a five-year Strategic Partnership between the UK and Kenya at the beginning of last year, which was signed in Downing Street during the Africa Investment Summit. Kenya’s export to the UK include horticulture, tea and coffee while include vehicles, pharmaceuticals and paper.