Kenya’s proposed free trade deal with the U.S. has put it in crosshairs as critics say the planned bilateral agreement would be a breach of regional and continental trade protocols.
The proposed deal, if passed, would see the country open its borders for duty-free imports from the United States. The two countries share around $1 billion in trade annually.
Nairobi argues that the proposed deal is intended to replace the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) agreement, which expires in 2025 and allows duty-free access of a wide range of African goods to the US.
President Donald Trump’s administration has signalled its reluctance for multilateral trade deals such as AGOA, preferring instead to sign bilateral free trade agreements with individual countries.
This deal between the two countries would be a first for US trade relations in sub-Saharan Africa.
EAC Trade officials in Arusha say the deal is potentially in breach of Section 37 of the East African Community Customs Union Protocol that requires a member state to inform its partners of its intentions before such a deal is signed.
Under the EAC’s first pillar, the Customs Union Protocol — of which Kenya is a signatory — an EAC member is expected to notify the partners of any intention to offer a third-party preferential market access since member states share a common Customs territory.
The Kenyan government has however denied that it is in breach of both the EAC Customs Union Protocol and the AfCFTA