US trade lobby group slams Biden's delay to seal Kenya deal


US President Joe Biden. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

The United States Chamber of Commerce has hit out at President Joe Biden administration’s perceived delay in concluding a new trade deal with Kenya, which was initiated by his predecessor Donald Trump more than two years ago.

Terming the Kenya deal as a low-hanging fruit that ought to have been concluded by now, the lobby, which is the biggest and most influential US business group, accused the Biden administration of dilly-dallying in signing the pact.

“While other economies race to ink new deals, the US has not entered an agreement with a trade partner in a decade,” said chamber’s president Suzanne Clark in an update.

“And the current administration consumed by caution and internal reviews is doing little to change that. In fact, it is yet to pick even the lowest hanging fruit such as trade agreements that were already underway with the UK and Kenya, some of our closest allies.”

She spoke as US officials remained non-committal on the future of the deal after a meeting with Kenyan officials held in Nairobi early this month.

Her remarks also come as US rivals like China and Japan are seen to shape trade practices across the globe including in Kenya.

There has also been growing unease in Nairobi about the Biden administration’s delay in concluding the free trade agreement with Kenya.

Kenya and the US on July 8 2020 formally launched negotiations for the bilateral trade pact.

Nairobi is keen on signing a new trade deal with Washington before the expiry of the current arrangement under 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.

Agoa grants 40 African States quota and duty-free access to the US market of more than 6,000 product lines.

Kenya is currently the US’s 96th largest goods trading partner, according to Washington.

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