WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Africa Business Center today hosted President Kenyatta at its U.S.-Kenya Trade Forum in Washington. President Kenyatta’s visit coincided the announcement that the two countries would soon begin negotiations on a free trade agreement.
“We applaud the administration for its efforts to expand trade and investment opportunities through its Prosper Africa Initiative, and we fully support pursuit of a comprehensive, high-standard trade agreement with Kenya,” said Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “A deepening U.S.-Kenya commercial relationship bodes well for the U.S. and the entire African continent.”
A U.S.-Kenya free trade agreement would be the first such agreement with a sub-Saharan African country. The last time the U.S. concluded a free trade agreement with an African country was with Morocco in 2004. Kenya is currently the 98th largest U.S. trading partner with $1.0 billion in total two-way goods traded.
Under President Kenyatta’s leadership this past year, Kenya has moved up 5 spots in the ease of doing business index, ranking 56 out of 190 countries. Kenyatta has also stated his ambition to be in the top 50 by the end of 2020.
“With a growing middle class, 70% of its population under 30, and 6 of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world, American business sees vast opportunities to expand trade and investment ties with Africa,” said Brilliant. “President Kenyatta has been a strong advocate for allowing American companies better access to the Kenyan market. This is why firms of all sizes view Kenya as a hub and have expanded their operations in the country.”
During the trade forum, the U.S. Chamber announced the launch its U.S.-Kenya Trade Working Group, which will bring together business executives to exchange ideas, build mutual trust, and seek common ground on key trade priorities with U.S. and Kenyan trade officials. The working group will provide recommendations on enhancing cross-border trade flows and on improving efficient trade practices.
The U.S. Chamber has been engaging with the Kenya government for more than a decade to increase commercial cooperation between the two counties. Most recently, the U.S. Chamber hosted a high-level business roundtable with President Kenyatta on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in September and awarded President Kenyatta with a Distinguished Leader award in Nairobi last November.