On February 6, 2020, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that the United States was initiating free trade agreement negotiations with the Republic of Kenya. The announcement came shortly after President Donald Trump met with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and after the third meeting of the U.S.-Kenya Trade and Investment Working Group, which was established in August 2018 in an effort to foster a stronger bilateral trade relationship. In a brief statement, USTR Robert Lighthizer said, “We believe this agreement with Kenya will complement Africa’s regional integration efforts, including in the East African Community and the landmark African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the United States pledges its continued support to help the AfCFTA achieve its fullest potential.” He added that a high-standard agreement with Kenya can serve as a model for additional agreements across Africa.
According to the USTR’s U.S.-Kenya Trade and Investment Relationship fact sheet, two-way trade in goods between the United States and Kenya was $1.1 billion in 2019, up 4.9% from 2018. After formally notifying Congress of its intent to negotiate the trade agreement with Kenya, the USTR will publish a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment on the direction, focus and content of the trade negotiations. The USTR will then notify Congress of its objectives for the negotiations at least 30 days before trade negotiations begin.