Although the AfCFTA has exacerbated the problem, bilateral negotiations with Kenya have already been difficult. Due to Kenya`s commitments as a member of the EAC, there are two main challenges that a bilateral agreement faces. First, Article 37 of the EAC Customs Union Protocol “Trade Agreements with Countries and Organizations Outside the Customs Union” states that countries are required to communicate to the EAC Secretary General the terms of a trade agreement as soon as he intends to “enter into or amend an agreement with a third party for review and advice”. Based on this protocol, critics have argued that Kenya`s accession to the EAC customs union should prevent it from filing a free trade agreement with the United States. Meanwhile, others, such as Kenya`s former trade cabinet secretary Peter Munya, have indicated that he is only required to inform EAC members of an agreement and that no agreement has been proposed at this stage. For the European Union and China, the Kenyan agreement indicates America`s intention to develop commercially and exist in Africa. The main objective is to ensure duty-free access for U.S. industrial, clothing and agricultural goods in Africa. It`s about making U.S. exports competitive. In 2018, President Donald Trump and President Uhuru Kenyatta made the bilateral relationship between the United States and Kenya a strategic partnership and established a Trade and Investment Task Force to explore ways to deepen the trade and investment relationship between the two countries and lay the foundation for a strengthened future trade relationship. In 2020, the two presidents agreed to strengthen economic ties by negotiating a free trade agreement. A3: The landscape of negotiating a bilateral agreement with Kenya has become much more complicated in recent years.
As of March 2018, the AfCFTA has been signed by 54 African countries. The agreement entered into force in May 2019 for 29 of these countries (including Kenya) and the AfCFTA will be fully operational on 1 July 2020. The AfCFTA does not create a customs union, but it is seen as a stepping stone to an African customs union. Today, African Union (AU) countries are increasingly concerned that the US attempt to use Kenya as a “model” does not reflect the needs of other AU members and disrupts regional integration. Shortly after Kenya`s decision to advance negotiations with the United States, Erastus Mwencha, former Vice-Chairperson of the African Union Commission and First Secretary-General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, said: “Under the AU, African heads of state have prevented member states from concluding bilateral free trade negotiations with third parties because they endanger the AfCFTA.” Mwencha also argued that Kenya would be able to negotiate a much better deal if it deteriorated with other members. Kenya disagrees and is putting in place a big test for the AfCFTA before producing its full effect later this year. For Kenya, there are several motivations for raising your hand. First, more than 70% of Kenyan exports to the United States are duty-free under AGOA, a major preferential trade program in the United States that expires in 2025. The U.S.
is still considered one of Kenya`s top export markets and Kenya has repeatedly stated that it is important to ensure duty-free access to the U.S. before AGOA expires. Of the six EAC member countries, Kenya is the only one not on the UN list of least developed countries (LDCs). Under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a separate trade preference program, LDC countries benefit from additional access to customs exports to the United States. . . .