TRADE

Kenya accused of solo tactics in new trade deals with US

AU claims Kenya breaching protocol in pursuing solo trade deals

In Summary
    • The move by Kenya to approach US for trade deals is seen as a sabotage to the new continental trade outfit expected to negotiate business ties on behalf of member states.
    • President Uhuru Kenyatta said the proposed new trade arrangement would in no way undermine Kenya’s commitment to AfCFTA.
US President Donald Trump and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta in White House on February 6, 2020.
US President Donald Trump and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta in White House on February 6, 2020.
Image: PSCU

Kenya has been accused of bypassing rules governing the new African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in its recent trade deals with the United States of America.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing AU Head of States Summit in Ethiopia, AU commissioner for trade and industry Albert Muchanga said that he hopes Kenya will give a brief on the initiative that it is taking with the United States.

''We have provisions in the AfCFTA which require a country to notify us when it intends to enter into a free-trade agreement. Any preferences given to a third party must also be accorded to other members of the continental trade body,'' Muchanga said.

 
 
 

The move by Kenya to approach US for trade deals is seen as a sabotage to the new continental trade outfit expected to negotiate business ties on behalf of member states.

The African Union formally kicked off the operational phase of the AfCFTA during a high-level summit in Niger in early July 2019 that brought together heads of state and government from across the continent.

The trade agreement has been in force since late May 2019. The only member of the African Union that had not signed the accord at the time of this writing was Eritrea, given that Benin and Nigeria signed on during the July summit.

The agreement has been ratified by 27 countries out of the 54 signatories.

Sub-Sahara Africa countries have been trading with the US under the African Growth and Opportunity(AGOA) pact signed in 2000. It is expected to expire in 2025.

Under the pact, African states were allowed duty-free exports on a select list of 6,421 goods, provided they met certain stringent conditions.

Even so, while addressing the American business community during his recent trip to where he signed several trade deals, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the proposed new trade arrangement would in no way undermine Kenya’s commitment to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

 

During the visit, Kenya and US for instance signed an amendment to the US-Kenya Air Transport Agreement, which will see the easier movement of goods between the two countries.

 
 

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said America recognises Kenya as a leader in Africa and an important strategic partner of the US.

He added a new trade agreement presents the two countries a rare opportunity to explore ways of deepening Kenya-US economic and commercial ties.

Currently, trade between Kenya and the US stands at about $1billion a year with over 70 percent of Kenya's export into the expansive American market in 2018, worth $466 million, entering under AGOA.