The Biden administration announced July 14 the launch of the U.S.-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership, which at least for now abandons the bilateral free trade agreement negotiations the two sides initiated several years ago in favor of an effort similar to those the U.S. is pursuing with the Indo-Pacific and Latin American regions.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai expressed hope that this initiative “can serve as a model for trade policy engagement in Africa.” While the U.S. has given no indication of other partners on the continent that might be ready to follow in Kenya’s footsteps, the scheduled expiration of the African Growth and Opportunity Act in 2025 could accelerate that process.
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According to information from USTR, the U.S. and Kenya plan to begin developing within the next three months “a detailed roadmap for engagement” in each of the following areas, with the goal of “negotiating high-standard commitments in order to achieve economically meaningful outcomes.”
Trade Facilitation and Customs Procedures. The two sides will discuss opportunities to simplify customs procedures, especially those that allow new entrants to engage in trade. Topics will include transparency, customs enforcement cooperation, and trusted trader benefits for demonstrated low-risk importers, particularly those that participate in their respective country’s authorized economic operator program.
Digital Trade. Discussions will examine ways to promote the development and use of resilient and secure digital infrastructure, encourage the participation of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in digital trade, and address discriminatory practices.
Good Regulatory Practices. Commitments will be considered on topics such as ensuring adequate time for public consultations on proposed regulations; posting proposed regulations for review by interested stakeholders; and basing regulatory decisions on best available information, science, and evidence, including undertaking risk analysis and regulatory impact assessment as appropriate.
Agriculture. The two sides will consider measures to facilitate agricultural trade and enhance transparency and understanding of the application of science- and risk-based sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
Anti-Corruption. Best practices will be shared on preventing and combating bribery and other forms of corruption, and the negotiation of specific commitments will be explored.
Standards. The role of standards, conformity assessment procedures, and technical regulations that have a significant impact on trade will be discussed, including opportunities to reduce impediments to trade due to differences in each country’s respective systems. In-depth discussions will be held on processes for the preparation, adoption, and application of technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures based on mutually agreed best practices.
Environment. Efforts to protect the environment, promote conservation, support climate change adaptation and mitigation, and foster the sustainable use and management of natural resources will be strengthened, and possibly commitments in these areas as well.
Labor. The U.S. and Kenya “share a desire to work together” on issues such as enforcement of and compliance with labor laws and forced labor in global supply chains.
MSMEs. Approaches to integrate micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises into international trade will be discussed and periodic technical best practices exchanges will be held.
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