The proposed US – Kenya Trade Deal: Context and Consequences
On 17 March 2020, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced to the US Congress that the Trump administration will now negotiate a comprehensive trade agreement with Kenya. This will be done under the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which is a legislative procedure allowing the administration to negotiate trade agreements without legislative interference. Congress can approve or reject a deal, but they cannot change or delay it. For this reason, it is also known as fast-track trade legislation.
This is an important development. The trade negotiations with Kenya (along with the UK and the EU) are said to count under Mr. Lighthizer’s top priorities now. It will be the first American Free Trade Agreement (FTA) concluded with a sub-Saharan African state. The only other American FTA with an African nation is the US-Morocco FTA, signed on June 15, 2004.
It will take time to negotiate and ratify a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement. It will take even longer to start writing a new chapter in US-Africa relationships. It is too early to speculate about the full impact of this initiative, but the contours of a new debate are emerging.
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