Republican Senators urge Biden to prioritise Kenya-US trade deal

Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden speaks during climate change virtual summit from the East Room of the White House campus April 22, 2021, in Washington, DC. PHOTO | AFP

Republican Senators have urged President Joe Biden's administration to conclude a free trade agreement with Kenya, which was initiated by his predecessor Donald Trump.

In a letter written to the US trade representative Katherine Tai, seven Republican Senators want the negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two nations concluded fast to pave way for business and investment.

Led by Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, the legislators said the agreement would build on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which expires in 2025 and free trade efforts on the continent.

"A US-Kenya FTA is the appropriate next step in recognising and strengthening relations, economic opportunities, and a security partnership between the United States and Kenya," the Senators said. 

"A US-Kenya FTA would continue the accomplishments of AGOA and offer greater predictability and security to both the US and Kenya."

They said the economic situation in the country shows strong growth potential and would be bolstered by a trade agreement with the North American nation, which remains Kenya’s fourth-largest trading partner and second-largest export market.

“The American and Kenyan business community is eager to see a US -Kenya FTA completed and make bilateral investments in the infrastructure, healthcare, manufacturing and finance industries," they said.

The senators also want the deal to be concluded fast to tame China and Russia's growing interests on the continent.

The White House and the USTR did not immediately respond to a Business Daily request for comment.

The letter dated August 20, 2021, was sent ahead of a virtual meeting between Ms Tai and Trade CS Betty Maina. No clear path for resuming negotiations for the free trade pact emerged after the meeting.  

Separate statements issued by Trade Ministry and US Trade office did not provide any timelines for resuming the stalled talks.

The Republican legislators pushing for the deal include Jim M. Inhofe (Oklahoma), Mike Crapo (Idaho), M. Michael Rounds (South Dakota), Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), James Lankford (Oklahoma), John Boozman  (Arkansas) and Bill Hagerty (Tennessee).