When former President Uhuru Kenyatta met and held discussions with visiting US Senator Chris Coons who paid him a courtesy call at State House Nairobi. [File, Standard]

The future of the US-Kenya partnership is bright. Cutting edge innovation, unprecedented growth, and the drive of talented Kenyan and American entrepreneurs are fueling the transformation of our nations’ commercial ties. To further strengthen this alliance, between March 28 and 30, I will lead a US Department of Commerce trade delegation of 11 US companies to guide our partnership forward. We will meet with several Kenyan government leaders and private sector innovators to advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s bold mission of fueling our global economies through investment and trade. 

Our US trade delegation is traveling to Nairobi to support Africa’s transformation on the global stage and cultivate strong, lasting partnerships with Kenya and the entire African continent. Kenya is home to some of Africa’s most innovative companies that are breaking new ground in critical high-growth industries, including healthcare, information communication, technology and infrastructure.

The US and Kenya boast a growing trade relationship. In 2022, total goods traded between our countries reached $1.5 billion, a 40 per cent increase since 2019. This historic growth is promising, but the Biden-Harris administration is confident there is even more room for growth.

To this end, our two countries will soon hold the first negotiating round of the US-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership, which aims to increase investment; promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth; benefit workers, consumers, and businesses, including micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises and support African regional economic integration.

Our US delegation understands the potential from the Kenyan business community. Their economic expertise, specialties, and networks can help Kenya meet its healthcare, infrastructure, digitalisation, energy, and other development objectives. Kenya’s market economy, pro-business environment, democratic credentials, and stability have enabled it to emerge as an economic hub in East Africa. For all these reasons and more, Kenya continues to grow as a place for US exporters and investors to do business.

This trade mission offers the unique opportunity to build longstanding, person-to-person relationships through face-to-face meetings arranged by the US Embassy in Nairobi. Our mission participants include companies throughout the US looking to connect with their Kenyan counterparts, many of which have a similar business structure.

In the US and Kenya, SMEs account for the vast majority of businesses, driving innovation, entrepreneurship, and supporting millions of jobs. Our two countries also share a strategic emphasis on social inclusion and the goal of advancing gender equality to create a more diverse workforce.

As the Under Secretary of the US Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), I am dedicated to fostering the growth and global competitiveness of the United States’ small and minority businesses, including African American-owned, women-owned, and diaspora-led businesses. MBDA’s purpose is to expand access for business communities that historically have had difficulty securing opportunities to grow and thrive. Though our nations’ businesses face different challenges, ultimately, they all require more access to opportunities, both domestically and internationally.

Our trade partnership must reflect the diversity of our nations’ businesses, communities, and people. Tapping into the potential of every American and every Kenyan is how we create a strong, lasting partnership, and it is how we elevate Africa as a leader on the global stage.

For all Kenyan businesses interested in finding US goods and services suppliers, we encourage you to work with the Department of Commerce’s US Commercial Service team at the US Embassy. I look forward to our collaboration. Now, it’s time to get to work.

Mr Cravins is the first Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development