WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement in response to today’s announcement that the United States and Kenya will pursue a bilateral free trade agreement.
“I applaud today’s announcement that the United States and Kenya will pursue a free trade agreement. Kenya is a vibrant nation of nearly 50 million people and is a vital partner in a strategically important region. In the last decade, Kenya has been among the fastest growing economies in the world and is home to the regional headquarters of U.S. companies like Corteva, MasterCard, General Electric, and Coca-Cola. I am encouraged that the Trump administration is seeking to deepen the relationship with Kenya through negotiations toward what could be the United States’ first free trade agreement in sub-Saharan Africa.
“As negotiators begin to examine the details of a future trade relationship, I expect them to consult closely with Congress and adhere to the guidelines we have established in the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. In addition, I encourage U.S. negotiators to prioritize Kenya’s economic growth, to consider robust U.S. technical assistance for Kenya’s implementation of a potential deal, to press for stronger intellectual property protections, and to frequently consult with labor and environmental leaders during negotiations to ensure that the terms benefit workers in both countries without harming the environment.
“A U.S.-Kenya Free Trade Agreement would not replace the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which will continue to be the foundation of an ongoing U.S. commitment to economic development in sub-Saharan Africa through its preferential treatment of African exports. Rather, a Kenya trade pact can serve as a model for how African economies can deepen their trade relationship with the United States, beyond AGOA. Finally, I encourage the Office of the United States Trade Representative to continue supporting intra-African trade, trade facilitation, regional economic integration, and the advancement of the African-Union brokered continental free trade agreement.”