New round of Kenya-US trade talks starts

Joe Biden and Uhuru Kenyatta

US President Joe Biden meets with his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on October 14, 2021. PHOTO | AFP

The US government and Kenya will from Tuesday start another round of trade talks, signalling a fresh direction after the Biden administration froze Trump-era negotiations on the free trade agreement.

“Kenya-US trade and investments experts are set to have in-person meetings scheduled for 3rd May to 6th May,” said Kenya’s trade ministry while announcing the meetings will not be open to the press.

Assistant United States Trade Representative (USTR) for African Affairs Constance Hamilton lead a delegation to Kenya to explore opportunities for enhanced trade and investment engagement, USTR spokesperson Adam Hodge told Reuters on Friday.

The delegation will include subject-matter experts from USTR and the Departments of State, Labour, Commerce and Agriculture, he said.

The visit follows recent meetings between top US trade negotiator Katherine Tai and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina in which they agreed to deepen trade ties.

The US has until now remained mum on the fate of the free trade pact after meetings between Kenya and US last year, signalling a deadlock.

Kenya wanted to do a deal with Washington before the expiry of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which allows sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the US without tariffs or quotas until 2025.

The proposed trade deal has faced delays after the Biden administration sought more time to scrutinise the pact negotiated by Donald Trump.

The Biden administration instead focused on dialogues with trading partners.

Hodge said the US delegation would seek to collaborate with their counterparts on a way to "generate inclusive growth" that benefits workers, attracts investment and promotes regional economic integration.

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