Kenya joins campaign against America’s trade deal with Asia

Textile workers at a factory in the Export Processing Zone in Athi River. FILE PHOTO |

Kenya is lobbying against the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) between the United States and 12 Asian countries for fear of losing its preferential access under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).

Kenyan officials joined trade ministers from African countries at this year’s Agoa forum in Washington to urge the US to reconsider the move, arguing that the proposed pact will make African goods uncompetitive in the US market.

Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo told the Business Daily that the preferences that Kenya enjoys will be eroded once the US enters into trade agreements with other states outside Africa.

“Other trade agreements such as the Transpacific Partnership Agreement that the US is planning will affect the goods that are currently enjoying preferential rates [in] America,” said Dr Kiptoo.

The TPP eliminates or reduces tariffs on goods traded between partner countries. The agreement would abolish many of these tariffs.

Dr Kiptoo notes that it would be difficult for Kenya to compete with Asian countries such as Vietnam and others that are part of the TPP agreement.

“Vietnam is a big producer of textiles and this will make it difficult for us to compete with them once they get duty- and quota-free access to the US market,” he said.

Manufacturers in those countries produce apparel at lower costs than their Kenyan counterparts.