Free trade agreement between Kenya and the U.S faces new challenges in Congress

Top Stories

(Ecofin Agency) - The trade agreement that could be the most significant development in U.S-Africa trade relations, since the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) passed in Congress in 2000, faces another hurdle. This is attributable to the expiration of the key legislative tool (TPA) needed to accelerate Congress’s approval of the agreement. Consequently, the prospects for the deal to conclude becomes gloomy.

The TPA (trade promotion authority), which allows the head of state to fast-track trade negotiations with congress expired on July 1 and without it, the eventual implementation of the bill would be subjected to amendments by U.S legislators. This would make ratification difficult. This turn of events will see trade deals already in the pipeline, among which are negotiations with Kenya, and the United Kingdom, affected.

Also, this makes it more difficult for the deal to reach completion before 2022 when the tenure of Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s president, comes to an end; a situation that will pose another potential transition challenge like that seen in the Trump to Biden administrations. According to BROOKINGS, president Kenyatta seeing the free trade agreement come through is a legacy for him. Yet the question remains if the deal will be completed during his reign, taking into consideration these new and future unknown hurdles.

Let’s note that Kenya had hoped to wrap up the deal before the expiry of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (by 2025) which allows trading between sub-Saharan African countries with the United States tariff-free.

 

Solange Che