May 21,2024

Top Democrats on Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees Urge Administration to Upgrade Trade Talks with Kenya to a Comprehensive Trade Agreement

Wyden and Neal Call on U.S. Trade Representative to Negotiate Strong Trade Agreement with Kenya to Boost Protections for Labor, Environment and Support U.S. Workers and Manufacturers

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal, D-Mass., called on U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to transition current trade discussions with Kenya into negotiations of a comprehensive, enforceable trade agreement, in a letter today. 

Although the Biden administration is in discussions for a U.S.-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP), negotiating a full trade agreement would offer more opportunities to improve protections for labor and the environment and open the Kenyan market for U.S. manufacturers, farmers, and small businesses, Wyden and Neal wrote. The U.S. has already largely opened its market to Kenyan products through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

“A U.S.-Kenya FTA, with strong and innovative rules and enforcement mechanisms, would enhance U.S. competitiveness in Kenya and encourage the Kenyan government to make high-standard commitments and reforms in critical areas, including raising and enforcing labor standards in Kenya’s informal economy and safeguarding the environment from degradation,” Wyden and Neal wrote. “An enforceable and comprehensive trade agreement with Kenya will help to create a standard for engagement with African nations moving forward.”

Wyden and Neal support the Biden administration’s goals and efforts to strengthen ties with Kenya, including renewing AGOA. But they urged Ambassador Tai to upgrade current talks to a more durable agreement.

“Trade agreements, when done right, can be a powerful driver for good-paying, quality jobs that open new markets and create more customers for American small businesses, manufacturers, farmers, and service providers, while raising the bar on human rights, labor standards, and environmental protections around the world and leveling the playing field for American workers,” they wrote. 

Read the full letter to Ambassador Tai here