By Getrude Matayo
Us dairy farmers want unfettered access of their milk products to the Kenyan Market in the proposed free trade agreement between Nairobi and Washington, which could have far-reaching implications on Kenya’s milk farmers.
The two countries recognize that an agreement between them has the potential to serve as a model for additional agreement across Africa including with other EAC partner states.
According to the IDFA president and CEO Michael Dykes, currently, Kenya maintains its highest tariffs on a range of agricultural products, including dairy at an average of over 50 percent because it considers dairy to be sensitive products and uses to stabilize domestic prices
Kenya recently introduced a 10 percent import levy on dairy products to protect the local industry from unfair competition.
In a letter to US Trade Representatives Robert Lighthizer regarding the trade negotiations, the International Dairy Food Association (IDFA) said Kenya’s protectionist measures over its dairy sector limits US dairy’s ability to enter the Kenyan market.
Kenya and the US formally launched negotiations last month for a bilateral trade agreement that the two economies hope could serve for additional agreements across the African continent.
US negotiators should seek ambitious tariff reduction, including for protected dairy products I Kenya while seeking a simplified trade facility entry to US dairy imports into Kenya.
“Kenya is a recognized leader across the continent, an important strategic partner of the United States and there is enormous potential for us to deepen our economic and commercial ties”. Said Ambassador Lighthizer.
The United States and Kenya share a deep and enduring relationship that encompasses longstanding social, cultural, economic, and political ties. Both countries have worked closely together to strengthen agriculture, protect wildlife, improve health and welfare, assisting in civic education, and combat the scourge of terrorism.