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Any U.S.-Kenya FTA Must Build from Floor Set by New NAFTA

Statement of Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

 Note: At a meeting today at the White House, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the two countries intend to launch negotiations for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Any new U.S. trade agreement being negotiated from scratch – whether it is with Kenya, the United Kingdom, European Union or other nations – must build from the floor set by the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Trying to fix an existing bad deal like NAFTA to reduce its ongoing damage is very different from creating a truly good trade deal that generates jobs, raises wages and protects the environment and public health.

Any new U.S. trade pact, including with Kenya, must build on the floor set by the new NAFTA, meaning no special protections for foreign investors or Big Pharma, stronger rules to stop race-to-the-bottom outsourcing of jobs and pollution, binding climate standards, enforceable rules against currency cheating and no limits on the protections needed to ensure that our food and products are safe, our privacy is protected, monopolistic online firms are held accountable and big banks do not crash the economy again.

One question is why Kenya would want to take on take on a raft of new obligations under a U.S. FTA when it already enjoys largely duty-free access to the U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).