• Reuters


U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday the United States would formally initiate trade talks with Kenya, adding that he would “probably” sign a deal with the East African country.

The announcement, made at a White House meeting between Trump and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, directs U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to issue a formal notification to Congress under the “fast-track” trade negotiating law.

“We believe this agreement with Kenya will complement Africa’s regional integration efforts,” Lighthizer said in a statement. “We believe a trade agreement between the United States and Kenya will receive broad bipartisan support in Congress.”

USTR intends to seek public input on the “direction, focus and content of the trade negotiations” and will publish U.S. objectives for the talks 30 days before they begin, he said.

Kenyatta on Wednesday said his country was keen to secure its economic future ahead of the expiry of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which allows sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the United States without tariffs or quotas until 2025.

Trump, asked before the two leaders’ White House meeting if Washington would sign a trade agreement with Nairobi, Trump told reporters, “Probably.” Kenyatta said the leaders would look at the issue during their talks.

USTR said a meeting of the previously established U.S.-Kenya Trade and Investment Working Group also resulted in Kenya’s adoption of new food safety protocols that allow wheat growers in Washington State, Oregon and Idaho access to Kenya’s $470 million wheat market for the first time in over a decade.

The group also agreed to develop a technical assistance plan to maximize Kenya’s benefits under the remaining years of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.

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