The United States and Kenya recently announced intent to negotiate a Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP). This STIP seems to be an alternative to the Trump-initiated U.S.-Kenya Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, which the Biden administration rightly shelved over misalignment with the previous negotiation’s priorities and ambitions.
Like other Biden trade initiatives, the STIP will not be a traditional FTA, but the extent to which it will differ from the status quo remains to be seen. Corporate lobby groups are already calling for Kenya to weaken its strong laws banning certain genetically modified foods and protecting consumers’ privacy online.
The amount of trade between Kenya and the United States is small, but if Kenya negotiates a standard FTA with the U.S., it will be forced to give up strong laws banning certain genetically modified foods and protecting consumers privacy online and become vulnerable to floods of subsidized U.S. agribusiness products that could wipe out local farmers. Even if a new U.S. FTA with Kenya is not a good idea, any new U.S. trade agreement being negotiated from scratch must build from the floor set by the new NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). That means no special protections for foreign investors or Big Pharma or Big Ag, stronger rules to stop race-to-the-bottom outsourcing of jobs and pollution, binding climate standards, 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.