U.S Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer has formally notified Congress that President Donald Trump will negotiate a trade agreement with the Republic of Kenya. Ambassador Lighthizer stated that the Trump administration is seeking a “a comprehensive, high-standard agreement with Kenya that can serve as a model for additional trade agreements across Africa. Kenya is an important regional leader, a strategic partner of the United States, and a commercial hub that can provide substantial opportunities for U.S. trade and investment.” Pursuant to the provisions of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (i.e., Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or “fast track” authority), USTR must notify Congress in order to develop negotiating objectives that include Congressional and public input. USTR will now publish a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comments on the focus and content of any trade negotiations and will publish 30 days before the commencement of formal negotiations the negotiating objectives.
The notification letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi notes that USTR intends to initiate negotiations no earlier than June 15, 2020. Negotiations will seek to address both tariff and non-tariff trade barriers and achieve “fairer, more balanced trade.” The letter also indicates that the United States will seek provisions to “ensure effective implementation and enforcement.” Two-way trade in goods between the United States and Kenya was approximately $1 billion in both 2018 and 2019. Identical letters were also sent to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (House Minority Leader), Sen. Charles Schumer (Senate Minority Leader) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (Senate President Pro Tempore). USTR first announced that it was initiating negotiations in February 2020 (see Trump and Trade Update of February 7, 2020).