The United States-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) was signed in Dated July 14, 2022, the agreement expresses enhanced relations and a higher level of commitment between the two countries, focusing on increased investment and sustainable and inclusive growth. For the benefit of citizens and businesses of both countries. The agreement also aims to support regional economic integration in East Africa.
A year ago, in July 2021, the United States (US) administration announced the renewal of the Prosperity Africa initiative to increase mutual trade and investment between the US and African countries. At the time, the United States announced that it would focus on improving trade and investment in areas such as infrastructure, energy and climate solutions, health care and technology. As part of this initiative, 17 US government agencies are mandated to empower African businesses, facilitate deals and connect US investors with Africa.
Support for business women
It was also mentioned that the renewed launch of Prosperity Africa aims to focus on business projects that support women and small and medium enterprises in Africa. Under President Biden, America’s relations with African countries have pledged to focus on strengthening these trade relations strategically, cooperatively and reciprocally under the vision of ‘shared prosperity’ between Africa and the US. The US has also expressed its desire to see Africa’s economic power in the world for the African Free Trade Area, an African continental free trade zone.
Through the US-Kenya STIP, the two countries have identified key areas to develop into an “enhanced cooperation roadmap” with a focus on agriculture, anti-corruption, digital trade, environment and climate change activities, good regulatory practices, etc. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), enhancing workers’ rights and protection, supporting women, youth and other business participation, promoting cooperation at standards and facilitating trade and customs procedures. The agreement focuses on sustainability, innovation and good governance and highlights the requirement that all actions taken under the agreement should benefit local communities, consumers and businesses of both countries.
Encouraging agricultural innovation
Regarding the agricultural sector, the agreement also noted that a favorable environment for agricultural innovation will be created to increase food security and agricultural productivity. It also outlines the role of digital inclusion and accessibility, a resilient and secure digital infrastructure and online consumer protection to build trust, tackle discrimination and promote development in the digital economy. Emerging issues in digital commerce are also monitored.
Environmental protection, climate change adaptation and prevention and protection are also high on the agenda. Both countries emphasized the importance of sustainability in the use of natural resources while strengthening their mutual understanding and trade relations. A commitment to sound regulatory practices, such as adequate time for public consultation on proposed regulations, basing decisions on science and evidence, and regularly conducting risk and regulatory impact assessments were also identified as key areas of focus.
The agreement specifically outlines the importance of supporting MSMEs owned by women, youth and persons with disabilities. In this regard, exchange of best practices and roundtables are planned. Issues such as decent pay, high-quality work, and promoting trade policies that facilitate the role of women and children in global trade are key areas of focus for this agreement. Labor rights and protections, especially compliance with local labor laws and promoting dialogue and mutual cooperation in the field of labor and the employer, are considered important areas.
Mutual agreement practices
In the agreement, the two countries announced that they will participate in their trade process in detail and develop mutually agreed rules, standards and procedures. They also acknowledged the impact of the pandemic on supply chains and the benefits of introducing tighter and simpler border controls, particularly for new market entrants. In addition, in the agreement, the acceleration of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which provides for the rapid movement and clearance of goods, and outlines cooperation measures for trade facilitation and customs compliance for customs authorities.
The STIP agreement also provides that customs procedures and enforcement procedures between the two countries will be viewed in a common and transparent manner. Promotion of trusted trade benefits to vulnerable importers, particularly through authorized economic operator program participants, will also be considered. This will be a major development that other African customs authorities will surely take note of and aim to emulate in the future.
The agreement is consistent with and reinforces the ideas set out in the US Prosperity Africa Initiative, and it is expected that further bilateral and regional trade agreements with African countries will be signed soon. Such agreements are expected to eventually replace the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allows tariff- and quota-free exports from African countries to the United States, and expires in 2025. The commitment expressed in the US-Kenya STIP will create numerous opportunities for citizens and businesses of both countries to thrive from increased and sustainable trade and investment.