U.S., Kenya launch non-tariff trade and investment partnership talks

WASHINGTON, July 14 (Reuters) – The United States and Kenya have launched a strategic trade and investment partnership through which they will pursue commitments aimed at boosting economic growth, supporting African regional economic integration and other areas, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said on Thursday.

The U.S. and Kenyan governments will start work within three months to develop a roadmap for engagement in areas including agriculture safety and digital trade standards, climate change, regulatory practices, and customs procedures the USTR said in a statement.

Kenya has long sought a full free trade agreement with the United States and negotiations for such a deal to lower bilateral tariffs were launched by the former Trump administration with the east African country in 2020. But the Biden administration, which has shunned traditional trade deals, did not resume these talks.

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The partnership announced by the two countries on Thursday looks similar in structure to other recently launched U.S. trade dialogues with Britain, the European Union and Indo-Pacific nations, focusing on cooperation in areas other than tariff reductions and market access enhancements.

The Kenya dialogue will include efforts to develop micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises and discussions on enforcement of labor laws and promoting workers’ rights – central components of the Biden administration’s other trade initiatives.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who launched the partnership with Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina during a virtual meeting on Thursday, said in a statement that she wants the partnership to “grow our trade and investment relationship in a way that promotes resilience and facilitates sustainable and inclusive economic growth.”

“We also hope that this initiative can serve as a model for trade policy engagement in Africa, one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing regions in the world,” Tai added.

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Reporting by David Lawder and Chris Gallagher; editing by Kanishka Singh and Marguerita Choy

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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