Roundtable talk between Kenya Private Sector Alliance and US Representatives within Nairobi County Kenya on Trade Agreement. PHOTO /DONALD KOGAI


By Donald Kogai

Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) in

partnership with the Corporate Council on

Africa (CCA) hosted a roundtable discussion

with U.S. business leaders and senior

government officials to explore how

the private sector can support 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 the recent visit of

H.E. President Kenyatta to the United States,

where the U.S. and Kenyan Government

announced the launch of talks aimed at

establishing a free trade agreement (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.

“As you all know, last week in Washington D.C.,

Presidents Kenyatta and Trump announced at a

White House meeting, the commencement of

negotiations of a comprehensive, high-standard

agreement between the United States and

Kenya, which could serve as a model for

additional agreements across Africa,” President

CCA, Ms. Florizelle Liser.

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter who

spoke at the event said: “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


A successful U.S.-Kenya FTA will stand as a

landmark for East Africa, and for all of Africa.”

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.

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.

For a mutual beneficial agreement of which will

give value to both countries, 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 appreciated 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, Dr. Ruth Kagia, Deputy Chief of

Staff, Policy and Strategy, Executive Office of

the President of Kenya, appreciated the

discussion that took place in Washington

pointing out that this has the highest political


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.

Dr Kagia however pointed out the following

concerning the next steps for Kenya in realizing

the FTA: Time is of the essence and there

should be good progress made within the next

eighteen months.

There are 20 chapters of which will need private

sector participation towards delivery.

Capacity building needs to be enhanced from

the Kenyan Side.

Framework for cooperation needs to be all


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


KEPSA and CCA signed an MoU on the side-

lines of the round table 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.

Free trade increases prosperity for the citizens

of all participating nations by allowing

consumers to buy more, better-quality products

at lower costs.

It drives economic growth, enhanced efficiency,

increased innovation, and the greater fairness

that accompanies a rules-based system.

These benefits increase as overall trade exports

and imports increase.

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