NAIROBI, Kenya, March 2-Kenya’s move to pursue the international market through the US-Kenya trade deal should not be considered a breach of the region’s protocol.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya says the pact is the only way for the country to remain afloat on matters trade once the African Growth and Opportunities Act agreement (AGOA) expires in 2025. Under the AGOA agreement, Kenya is the second-largest exporter to the US market after Uganda.
“Kenya must get an agreement with the US, otherwise our trade will come to closure because we cannot wait until AGOA is gone then our trade collapses, we have to prepare,” said Munya.
Speaking during the handover ceremony of the Industry Ministry to Betty Maina, Munya defended the government’s pursuit, saying it had followed due procedures required by the regional bloc before it kicks off trading with the US upon confirmation.
“ The customs union does not prevent you from agreeing with other countries to trade, all you need to do is to ensure that goods from those countries do not find their way to other custom members without paying requisite duties,” he adds.
EAC Trade officials in Arusha accused Kenya of being in potential breach of Section 37 of the East African Community Customs Union Protocol.
Under the law, a member state expected to inform its partners of such a deal before the signing.
“We have already notified the EAC members so that we can negotiate in good faith,” Munya further commented.
US- Kenya trade talks commenced last month following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to the US where he assured that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will not be affected by the new deal between the two countries.
If the proposed deal is passed, Kenya will open her borders for duty-free imports from the United States, while Nairobi would also get to export a range of goods tax-free to the US.
The deal between the two countries would be a first for US trade relations in sub-Saharan Africa.