In August last year, when President Uhuru held a meeting with his American counterpart President Donald Trump in Washington D.C – Among the items in the bag of goodies he brought back home was a strategic bilateral partnership that granted Kenya certain special privileges when doing business with the United States.
The two Presidents set out to craft a working group whose sole mandate was to promote trade between the two nations and to iron out a deal that would ease or otherwise lift trade barriers that have long haunted investors on both sides.
That plan has largely worked.
Since that visit to Washington, some notable America companies and investors have been injecting billions of shillings into investment projects in the country, creating thousands of local jobs and driving overall economic prosperity.
During the sidelines of the AmCham Summit – a private business event focused on direct B2B engagements, U.S ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter said that America’s version of doing business with Kenya will largely be a two-way trade and investment partnership that will be underpinned by self-reliance.
Last year, for instance, Kenya enjoyed a $331 Million trade surplus with the US. Nonetheless, Ambassador McCarter noted that trade between the US, Kenya and the greater E.A region remains limited and that more can be achieved especially with President Uhuru’s continued push to loop in the private sector during both regional and international trade.
On his part, President Uhuru Kenyatta who was also present during the summit noted that the private sector will be a key ally to developing continued partnerships with the United States. He said that Kenya had made steady progress in improving its business environment through deliberate actions taken to enhance security and infrastructure.
The President also promised to scale up the war against corruption, vowing to smoke out corrupt officials who continue to hinder national prosperity.
The US government through USAID and Export-import bank has now moved to set aside a $400 Million credit line to finance small businesses in the country wishing to business with the US.
Further, the US will partner with at least eight county governments to deliver competitively priced projects that make sense to the Kenyan people. But Ambassador McCarter reiterated his government’s position on doing business with Africa.
“Kenya has the resources it needs to prosper, we are no savior – we are only offering a pathway to self-reliance,” He said during a media briefing.
The US remains the largest foreign aid donor to Kenya, donating up to Ksh 100 Billion that has largely been utilized in health, security and education projects around the country.