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US picks Kenya for bilateral trade deal

Wednesday January 29 2020

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Donald Trump

President Uhuru Kenyatta and US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC during an official visit August 27, 2018. FILE PHOTO | JOAN PERERUAN | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KEVIN J. KELLEY
By KEVIN J. KELLEY
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New York,

The Trump administration has tapped Kenya as the first sub-Saharan nation to start talks with the US on a bilateral trade deal, the Bloomberg News agency reported on Tuesday.

The prestigious designation is expected to be announced during President Uhuru Kenyatta's visit to Washington next week, Bloomberg said.

Kenya's Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau confirmed the report.

TRADE PACT

Mr Kamau told Bloomberg that the US and Kenya are aiming for significant progress towards an agreement in the coming months.

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He added that President Kenyatta's Cabinet will probably approve discussions with the US this week.

Completion of a bilateral trade pact could bring major benefits to Kenya's economy and enhance the nation's political standing in Africa and beyond.

Trump administration officials have previously indicated that the US wants to forge bilateral trade deals with sub-Saharan countries as successor arrangements to the multilateral African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) programme that is due to expire in 2025.

TRADE PARTNER

State Department diplomats have said the US will try to hammer out on a deal with a single sub-Saharan nation that would serve as a model for other individual trade pacts in the region.

Kenya ranks as the United States' sixth-biggest trade partner in the sub-Saharan region, Bloomberg noted, with total exchanges of goods and services between the two countries reaching nearly $1.2 billion in 2018.

Kenya has also been one of the leading beneficiaries of the 20-year-old African Growth and Opportunity Act which gives preferential treatment to exports from selected countries. Agoa has been especially helpful to Kenya's textile sector.