Africa Defense Forum
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Kenya Partners With U.S. for Economic Boost

The United States and Kenya have launched a strategic trade and investment partnership to pursue commitments to boost economic growth, support African regional economic integration and deepen trade cooperation.

The U.S. and Kenyan governments announced the partnership on July 14, 2022, saying they would develop a road map for engagement in areas including agriculture safety and digital trade standards, regulatory practices, and customs procedures.

Kenya has long sought a full free trade agreement with the U.S., and negotiations for such a deal to lower bilateral tariffs were launched in 2020. Kenya enjoys substantial duty-free access to the U.S. market through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a trade preference program for Sub-Saharan African countries, but it expires in September 2025.

Kenya exported $685 million worth of goods to the U.S. in 2021, of which more than 75% entered duty free under AGOA. The goods consisted mostly of apparel, macadamia nuts, coffee, tea and titanium ores. The U.S. exported $561.6 million in goods to Kenya in 2021, with aircraft, plastics, machinery and wheat among the biggest categories.

The Kenya dialogue will include efforts to develop micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and discussions on enforcement of labor laws and promoting workers’ rights.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who launched the partnership with Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina, said in a statement that she wants the partnership to “grow our trade and investment relationship in a way that promotes resilience and facilitates sustainable and inclusive economic growth. We also hope that this initiative can serve as a model for trade policy engagement in Africa, one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing regions in the world.”

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