Go for best US trade deal


Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty C. Maina speaking at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, JKIA on Monday, January 18, 2021. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Fresh negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement with the US give Kenya another opportunity to ensure the best outcome for its citizens.

Kenya wants a deal 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.

Nairobi’s negotiators should take into account concerns raised by Kenyan firms and civil society about the recently concluded Kenya-UK trade deal.

They should tread carefully especially on tariffs and quotas since these will greatly shape the future of trade with the US after 2025. Proposals by the US Chamber of Commerce such as elimination of Washington’s tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Kenya in exchange for expanded access to Kenyan market should be carefully weighed.

The negotiators must also be alert to what an expanded access of US to local market would mean for the competiveness of local firms.

With the US producing quality goods at a lower cost, Kenya must not be blind to what uncontrolled access for those goods could mean for local manufacturers.