Kenya-US trade
Trade CS nominee Moses Kuria.

Moses Kuria is the trade cabinet secretary designate in President William Ruto’s new administration.

The former Gatundu South MP is set to take the reins in the crucial trade docket at a time when the US trounced Uganda to become the biggest export market for Kenyan goods.

Official data shows exports to the US hit Kes39 billion in the six months to June on the back of improved apparel sales, highlighting the growing bilateral trade relations between the two countries.

Sticking out in Mr Kuria’s in-tray as trade CS is the urgency to finalize a trade deal between Kenya and the US which was initiated back in 2018 during former President Donald Trump administration.

With Mr Trump exiting the White House following election defeat in 2020, and Uhuru Kenyatta retiring after serving for two terms as Kenya’s president, the duty to deliver on the trade agreement falls on the Joe Biden and Ruto administrations in the respective countries.

Read also: The impressive résumé of Treasury CS nominee Prof Njuguna Ndung’u

The current US president, Joe Biden, is keen to follow the trade deal although modifications are necessary to digress from the policies of the previous government and reflect his priorities.

In her twilight days as trade cabinet secretary, Betty Maina has been markedly involved in laying the groundwork for a revised version of the US free trade agreement, an endeavor that Mr Kuria could continue.

Ms Maina met Katherine Tai—Trade Representative—in June this year during the World Trade Organization’s 12th Ministerial conference in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss various issues where the US and Kenya could develop a roadmap for enhanced cooperation.

To mirror Biden’s stance on climate, Ms Tai expressed support for sustainability to promote trade in environmental goods and services as well as curbing subsidies on fossil fuels.

Nevertheless, the Biden administration favors Trump-backed digital trade requirements to scrap customs duties on digital products and has rebutted data localization for American companies looking to do business in Kenya.

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