Kenya-US trade talks to resume in February


Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade and Industry Rebecca Miano. FILE PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

The Kenya-US trade negotiations will resume next month in Nairobi after the discussions scheduled for December failed to kick off.

Kenya’s Trade Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano said the Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) round of talks will focus on the completion of the text on agriculture as well as the new clauses that include Services Domestic Regulation, MSMEs and anti-corruption.

“The trade negotiations are resuming with a round in Nairobi in end January or first week of February,” said Ms Miano.

The Kenya-US STIP negotiations, held from October 4-7 in Washington DC covered agriculture and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, services, domestic regulations, anti-corruption, women, and youth among others.

The Kenyan delegation was led by Trade Principal Secretary Alfred K’Ombudo while that of the US was led by the Assistant Trade Representative Constance Hamilton.

However, the talks scheduled for December 2023 did not take place, prompting a reschedule to this year.

“We are due to continue with issues connected to agriculture and SPS, services domestic regulation, MSMEs and anti-corruption.”

She revealed that despite failure to hold them in December, negotiations continued virtually.

“There are ongoing conceptual meetings being done continuously online across all the other chapters,” said the CS.

The text in agriculture includes a number of provisions on food safety, plant health and animal health protection.

It also includes provisions on importance of agricultural trade and preserving the role of regulatory authorities to ensure the safety of their domestic food supplies.

“But I’m very excited about the progress that we’re making. I think we’re looking forward to having another round of negotiations with Kenya,” said Constance Hamilton during a virtual press briefing.

“I’m hoping that at the end of the day we do have a model that we can replicate in other interested countries across the continent.”

Kenya will hold discussions on the US proposed text on domestic regulation of services.

The text sets out the development and administration of rules and procedures governing licences or other authorisations required to supply services from professional service firms including architects, engineers, accountants, and lawyers.

Therefore, the aim of the proposed text is to ensure that service suppliers are treated fairly when they apply to operate in a given sector, and that there is a smooth flow of information between the applicant for a licence and the regulator.

The proposed text also prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in licensing. The US side has tabled proposed text for a chapter on MSMEs that aims at improving MSME access to capital and credit, training, trade education, trade finance, trade missions, and trade facilitation.

Underserved groups

It also focuses on promoting MSMEs owned by underserved and underrepresented groups, including women, indigenous peoples, youth, and minorities, as well as start-ups and agricultural and rural enterprises.

The text also aims to enhance cooperation among MSME support centres, promote the participation of MSMEs in digital trade, and help them to adapt to the market conditions. The US tabled a proposed text on anti-corruption consisting of nine articles and covering a wide range of topics.

Provisions to prevent and combat bribery include obligations to adopt or maintain measures to establish as criminal offense the bribery of public officials, embezzlement, and money laundering.

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