Two lawyers have moved to court, challenging a trade agreement between Kenya and the United States of America.
The East African on Tuesday, March 24 reported that lawyers Christopher Ayieko and Emily Osiemo filed a petition at the East African Court of Justice, demanding the trade deal between the two countries be declared illegal, null and void 3.
Kenya and the US are expected to strike a bilateral trade agreement involving imports and exports between the two countries, cutting across all sectors of the economy.
The duo argued that the Kenya US trade agreement violated the East African Community (EAC) Treaty and its regulations.
“That Kenya, without due regard to the provisions of the EAC Treaty and the protocols for the establishment of the Customs Union and Common Market Protocol, to which it is a party, entered into, negotiated and/or expressed intention to negotiate a bilateral Free Trade Agreement with the United States of America in total violation of the Treaty and the protocols,” the petition read in part.
Ayieko and Osiemo further petitioned that Kenya be blocked from importing wheat from regions in the US; Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
The publication reported that to meet the annual 900,000-tonne consumption threshold, Kenya imports most of her wheat from the US to top up the 350,00 tonnes produced locally.
The Trump administration on Tuesday, March 17 made public its plans to strike a comprehensive trade deal with Kenya.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stated that America had identified its trade negotiations with Kenya along with Britain as the country’s top priorities for the year.
The US government issued a directive to the Federal Register in the next 30 days, which would also call for public participation. Objectives of the negotiations would also be published a month prior to the start of the official negotiations commence.
In light of the legality of the trade, leaders from across Africa, in 2018, agreed that no country was to negotiate bilateral free trade deals with third parties outside a continental bloc.
Therefore, Kenya as a member of the EAC shares one custom territory with the rest of the members, which as a result, makes unilateral agreements tougher to strike.
In 2019, Kenya and US traded commodities totalling Ksh115 billion, a 4.9 per cent increment from 2018.
The US is a major contributor to the country’s foreign direct investment (FDI), with an estimated worth of over Ksh40.5 billion as of 2018. In 2019, Kenya imported aircraft worth Ksh6.07 billion, Ksh5.97 billion plastics, Ksh4.22 billion machinery, and wheat worth Ksh2.78 billion from the US.