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America-based corn lobby urges Biden to prioritise Kenya trade pact

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President Uhuru Kenyatta and his American counterpart Joe Biden at The White House in Washington DC. PHOTO | PSCU.

The US’ main corn lobby group has urged President Joe Biden’s administration and Congress to prioritise trade deals with the US and Kenya to avoid losing their industry’s advantage over China.

The American Corn Refiners Association (CRA), said delays in agreeing on trade deals will see potential partners like Kenya moving on and rivals like China shaping trade practices across the globe.

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

The administration had earlier called for the objectives of the US Kenya bilateral pact to be recast to recognise Biden’s agenda.

“After several months of “review” the Biden administration’s announced trade policy omits pursuit of new trade agreements. Further, the potential for new trade agreements fell further with the expiration of Trade Promotion Authority last June, a key tool for expedited consideration of new trade agreements in the Congress,” said the lobby.

“Instead, the administration’s trade policy agenda, as articulated by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), remains squarely focused on enforcing existing trade agreements, most notably the recently ratified US-Mexico- Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the China Phase One agreement.

New trade agreement negotiations with the United Kingdom (UK) and Kenya, initiated by the prior administration, have not been revived.”

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

The findings echo concerns from others in the broader US agriculture industry that Washington is not moving fast enough on trade matters, harming their competitive edge.

The US has finalised only four trade agreements since 2010, the corn refining industry association said. In contrast, China has established 10 agreements, the European Union has entered eight, and Canada has formed eight.

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