An Analysis of Corporate Comments Submitted for the USKESTIP
The United States - Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (USKESTIP) was officially launched on July 14, 2022.1 The United States Trade Representative (USTR) and Kenya's Ministry of Industrialization, Trade, and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary virtually launched the STIP negotiations, months after the last communication of its predecessor the US-Kenya FTA (USKEFTA), noting that they would begin earnest negotiations of the USKESTIP in three months. While there was no direct mention of the USKEFTA in the launch of the STIP, it is deemed the predecessor of this agreement. The USKESTIP is also seen as part of the US Prosper Africa Initiative, which aims to increase trade between the US and Africa, especially in sectors such as infrastructure, energy, climate solutions, healthcare, and technology.2 The agreement will also have a special focus on digital trade.3 The USTR, as part of the launch of the negotiations, sought public comments on matters relevant to specified trade areas, including U.S. interests and priorities, in order to develop objectives and positions for enhanced engagement and subsequent negotiation.4 This is a review of the comments submitted on or before 16 September 2022 to the USTR. Our review focuses on the area of digital trade with a specific emphasis on the comments on privacy, cross-border data flows, and data localization. We were also interested in comments made about the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) and the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which has a Digital Trade Protocol currently under negotiation. The interest in the AGOA stems from the fact that it has been the main justification for the push towards the negotiation of bilateral agreements with Kenya by the US, as it is often mentioned that its term is soon running out. While with regard to the AfCFTA, Kenya is a member state of this continental agreement which will have ramifications for its digital trade landscape.
1 Office of the United States Trade Representative “United States and Kenya Announce the Launch of the U.S.-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership” July 14 2022 available at https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2022/july/united-states-and-kenya-announce-launch-us-kenya-strategic-trade-and-investment-partnership.
2 Virusha Subban “Kenya: Shared Prosperity -the United States and Kenya sign Strategic Trade Investment Partnership” Global Compliance News: Baker McKenzie available at https://www.globalcompliancenews.com/2022/08/04/kenya-shared-prosperity-the-united-states-and-kenya-sign-strategic-trade-and-investment-partnership200722/.
3 Lawder and Gallagher “U.S., Kenya launch non-tariff trade and investment partnership talks” Reuters July 15 2022 available at https://www.reuters.com/world/us-kenya-launch-trade-investment-partnership-ustr-2022-07-14/.
4 Federal Register “A Notice by the Trade Representative, Office of United States on 08/05/2022” https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/08/05/2022-16798/us-kenya-strategic-trade-and-investment-partnership.