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
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.