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U.S.-Kenya Meeting, Focus on Trade Agreement

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President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to meet his counterpart from the United States of America (U.S.A), Donald Trump today at the White House, with the contentious issue under discussion being advancing trade and co-operation, such as a free trade agreement.

Speaking during The Atlantic Council Forum, a meeting by the think tank at Washington, D.C., President Kenyatta says that an FTA is a testament as to how Africa in genereal and East Africa in particular is moving towards integration.

” Africans are not standing still. We are integrating East Africa deeply, and the Continental Free Trade Agreement is a game changer. Today, there is a marked desire among my fellow African leaders to seek decisive change in how Africa engages the world. We want partners who are walking in the same direction as we are,” he says in a statement from the Presidential Service Communications Unit (PSCU).

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According to Nasdaq, the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Africa Business Center, Mr Eisner, President Donald Trump could jump start the negotiations with a formal notice to Congress, starting next week.

If the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) trade between the two countries were to happen, it could be similar to another set by Morocco and Kenya signed in March 2004 despite the war between the conflict in the West Sahel region over the ownership between Morocco and Spain.

There are a number of American companies that have set up shop in Morocco and the latter country presents a wide range of industries, from renewable energy, motor vehicles to aviation, states the U.S. Embassy. The U.S.-Mexico FTA has seen the trade between the two countries

“ By 2017, there were $ 1.2 billion exports of Moroccan goods to the U.S.In the same period, there were $ 2.2 billion goods exported from America to Morocco,” says the American embassy.

AfCTFA has sought integration through a variety of blocs. An example is the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTFA) signed in March 2018, which seeks to reduce the tarrifs that impede trade for African enterprises in the continent who would rather prefer global markets as compared to intra-Africa trade, as well as facilitate the continental free trade among 54 nations from the African Union, though only 28 in the continent have signed on to it, thus creating a single market for the countries of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that is worth over $ 3 billion.

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According to Brookings Institution, an American research organisation, AfCTFA could stimulate demand for agricultural market by between 20 to 30 percent, thus curbing the lack of access to markets that these markets lack, and consequently increasing the incomes of farmers.

The Trump-Uhuru meeting recalls a similar meeting between the Heads of States of the two countries back in 2018, where issues such as trade, security and investments were being discussed.

Among the highlights was the introduction of the direct flights between New York and Nairobi by national carrier Kenya Airways (KQ), though one of the criticism levelled against the flights is that they are unable to meet the demand during the winter season as most tourists are unlikely to travel.

Trade agreements between the two countries also occurs under the multilateral agreement, African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa), where Kenya exports textile goods to the U.S., which are worth Kshs 41.6 billion as of two years, citing statistics from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

On security issues, that Kenya has been a source of terrorism targets from the Al Shabaab militants due to its diplomatic ties to the U.S. has been evident.

Examples include the 2019 Manda Bay Airfield attack, a training base for the U.S., leading to the death of three U.S. nationals; the 2002 Kikambala hotel suicide bomb attack owned by the Isreali by the Al Qaeda leading to the deaths of 15 people; as well as the 1998 bombing attack by Al Qaeda, a sub-group of the Al Shabaab on the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, which saw over 220 people dead, states the Crisis Group.

Other than training camps, the U.S. embassy has the Export Control and Border Security program, created to ensure that no illicit products are passed through the Kenyan border as well as facilitate trade between Kenya and other countries.

Falling under such a category includes counterfeits, which the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) estimates to eat into 40 percent of what is produced by manufacturers, as they tend to be cheaper.

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