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Kenya Trade Agreement Negotiating Objectives Announced; ITC to Probe Duty Cuts

Tuesday, June 02, 2020
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has issued a summary of the specific objectives the U.S. has in negotiating a trade agreement with Kenya. USTR says it wants this agreement to serve as a model for additional agreements in Africa, build on the objectives of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and serve as an enduring foundation to expand bilateral trade and investment.

In addition to general goals such as expanded market access and reduced trade barriers, specific negotiating objectives include the following.

- increase transparency in import and export licensing procedures

- discipline import and export monopolies to prevent trade distortions

- expand market access for remanufactured goods exports by ensuring they are not classified as used goods that are restricted or banned

- duty-free access for U.S. textile and apparel products and improved competitive opportunities for such goods

- commitments with respect to greater regulatory compatibility to facilitate U.S. exports in key goods sectors

- reasonable adjustment periods for U.S. import-sensitive agricultural products

- specific commitments for trade in products developed through agricultural biotechnologies, including on transparency, cooperation, and managing low-level presence issues

- a mechanism to expeditiously remove unwarranted barriers that block exports of U.S. food and agricultural products

- a commitment that Kenya will not foreclose export opportunities to the U.S. with respect to third-country export markets

- ensure all customs laws, regulations, and procedures are published on the Internet

- streamlined and expedited customs treatment for express delivery shipments

- simplified customs procedures for low-value goods and a more reciprocal de minimis shipment value

- automation of import, export, and transit processes, including through supply chain integration; reduced forms, documents, and formalities; enhanced harmonization of customs data requirements; and advance rulings on treatment provided at time of importation

- disciplines on the use of customs brokers and reusable containers

- mutually beneficial cooperation mechanisms for preventing duty evasion and combating customs offenses

- rules that prohibit requirements for cross-border services providers to establish a local presence

- specialized sectoral disciplines, including rules to help level the playing field for U.S. delivery services suppliers in Kenya

- strong protection and enforcement for new and emerging technologies and new methods of transmitting and distributing products embodying intellectual property

- strong subsidy disciplines applicable to state-owned enterprises that go beyond those in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures

- provisions committing Kenya to criminalize government corruption, take steps to discourage corruption, and provide adequate penalties and enforcement tools

In addition, the International Trade Commission has launched an investigation of the probable economic effect of providing duty-free treatment for currently dutiable imports from Kenya under a potential trade agreement. A virtual public hearing will be held July 7, written comments are due by July 14, and the ITC expects to submit its report to USTR by Sept. 16.

For more information on the Kenya trade agreement negotiations, please contact Nicole Bivens Collinson.

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