Following the announcement that Kenya and the US are in talks for the establishment of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Kenyan businesses are moving fast to map out unexploited opportunities in the world’s largest economy.
The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) in partnership with the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) has already held talks with Kenyan and U.S. business leaders and senior government officials to explore how the private sector can support this bilateral effort and take full advantage of investment and trade opportunities that will arise from a Kenya-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.
This comes as a follow up to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to the White House last week, where the U.S. and Kenyan Government announced talks that might make Kenya the second African country to have an FTA with America after Morocco.
The launch of talks aimed at establishing an FTA between the two countries. If successful, it would be the first United States FTA with a sub-Saharan African nation and potentially a model the United States will use to enhance its trade and investment relationship with other African countries.
US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter who spoke at the event expressed confidence that upon finalisation of the deal, the two countries will benefit from each other’s markets.
“We look forward to working together to create a free-trade agreement that allows Kenyan and American businesses to benefit from increased access to each others’ markets and one where both our consumers will enjoy greater prosperity through expanded choice and competition within the marketplace. A successful U.S.-Kenya FTA will stand as a landmark for East Africa, and for all of Africa, ” said McCarter.
KEPSA CEO, Ms. Carole Karuga, emphasized the importance of the realization of the FTA between Kenya and the United States stating that it was poised to increase trade opportunities for export and import as well growth of business.
Ms. Karuga pointed out that Kenya had the highest GDP with in the East African Community and Kenyan business are leading in moving continental trade.
According to Karuga, the realization of the FTA between Kenya and the U.S. would have a positive impact on the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) of which initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.
“The FTA is a positive and timely development for Kenya as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) ends in 2025,: She said..
KEPSA will work with its partners in Kenya as well as all stakeholders in Kenya. KEPSA will also work with its partners in the United States such as CCA and Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU).
“Kenya should draw lessons from Morocco on the challenges and opportunities that are emerging with the free trade agreement between Morocco and the U.S. in order to learn and eventually do better,” she urged. In this regard, KEPSA, CCA and General Confederation of Enterprises in Morocco (CGEM) will work together to learn lessons from the Morocco experience.
PS, State Department of Trade, Amb. Johnson Weru hailed the synergy between Government and private sector, adding that the government is willing to walk this journey together with the private sector.
“As we speak there is a government team that is also dissecting the deliberations that took place in Washington last week. Kenya has a great appetite for this opportunity,” Amb. Weru.
A Kenya-U.S. FTA would build on the success Kenya has experienced in producing and exporting a range of value-added products to the U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), while enhancing two-way trade, strengthening commercial cooperation, and spurring investment into key sectors noting that the FTA would act as a stamp of approval to spur trade and investments by assuring long-term predictability to companies in both countries.
Upon conclusion of negotiations and signing of the FTA, trade has to be two way and in large volumes for sustainability, small industries need to be protected and challenges in logistics need to be resolved for the ease of doing business between the two countries to be realised.
KEPSA and CCA have already signed a deal to promote mutual interests through cooperation in the promotion of trade and investment opportunities in Kenya.
This emphasizes on the need to explore opportunities between Kenya and the United States on the backdrop of the commencement of the negotiations on the free trade agreement between Kenya and the United States.