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Smith Calls for Resuming Real Trade Negotiations with Kenya Following Meeting with President Ruto

May 23, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) issued the following statement after participating in a bipartisan meeting with Congressional leadership and the President of the Republic of Kenya William Samoei Ruto:

“American workers and businesses – particularly our farmers – would benefit from a more established and reciprocal trading relationship between the United States and Kenya. Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States and Kenya sought to negotiate a model free trade agreement to set a high standard for U.S. engagement in sub-Saharan Africa, including new access for U.S. agriculture. I appreciate that Kenya remains open to resuming such negotiations. Unfortunately, under President Biden, they have fallen by the wayside in favor of less ambitious negotiations to form a ‘partnership’ that is designed to enter into force without congressional approval.

“It is vital that the United States reengages with Kenya to show leadership on the African continent and counter China’s malign influence. Only comprehensive free trade agreement negotiations can address the substantial tariffs facing U.S. exports, including agricultural products, with meaningful enforcement mechanisms – something that frameworks, partnerships, and dialogues cannot accomplish.

“Additionally, the African Growth and Opportunity Act continues to enjoy strong bipartisan support, and I look forward to working with President Ruto and other African leaders as Congress considers next steps to renew and reform this important program prior to its expiration next year.”