The Biden administration wants to improve Kenya’s investment climate to become a model for other African countries .
This is part of the US-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) which was launched on July 2022 before the end of former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s term in office.
The goal of the Partnership is to increase investment; promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth; benefit workers, consumers, and businesses including micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises, and support African regional economic integration.
Constance Hamilton, the Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa and the lead negotiator in the talks,stated that the negotiations will make Nairobi a magnet for multinational companies which will create decent jobs for millions of Kenya’s skilled jobless youth.
The patnership identified a set of initial issues on which the United States and Kenya share the goal of negotiating high-standard commitments in order to achieve economically meaningful outcomes.
As reported by Business Daily, during the first round of negotiations, the US negotiators asked Kenya to improve transparency and fairness of processes for licensing American service suppliers such as accountants, lawyers, engineers, and architects.
The second round of discussions focused on four of the topics under the U.S.-Kenya STIP: agriculture,anti-corruption, inclusivity, and services domestic regulation.
The partnership comes at a time when Kenya is seeking to have a full free trade agreement with the US to replace the old Agoa deal which allows duty- and quota-free access to the US products such as food and beverages, wood, plastics and rubber from sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya has largely tapped the apparel line.
The future of Agoa, a 25-year-old programme is uncertain as critics call for reciprocity and African nations consider having their own individual bilateral trade deals with the US.
According to Ms Hamilton STIP is not intended to remove Kenya out of Agoa as the US Trade Representative seek to renew upon expiry mid-2025 subject to approval by the Congress.
“The lessons learned from 25 years of Agoa is that we have to do better,” she said, citing the findings of the US International Trade Commission earlier in the year.
“We do believe that not addressing and not trying to change the programme and make it better is a wasted opportunity. So at USTR, we do support renewal of Agoa, but we do think that there are things that can be done to make the programme more impactful, and we hope that Congress will take a look at those things.”