The United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai confirmed that she has not met with Trade and Investment Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria during her trip to the country this week. She however declined to say the reason why she gave the Kenyan CS a wide berth and instead said the government was well aware of the reasons.
Tai has been in the country since Monday and has met different government-private sector leaders in what the US said were meetings aimed at discussing opportunities for increased cooperation with the United States.
She was expected to meet with CS Kuria and discuss trade ties between the two countries.
“I did not meet with CS Kuria, in terms of why I did not meet with him, I would have to refer you to the Kenyan government,” she said at a media briefing yesterday, adding that she had met with other officials and discussed the Kenya-US Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP).
“Nevertheless I have had very robust engagements with other counterparts in the Kenyan government on the STIP,” she said.
Tai met President William Ruto on Wednesday morning. She termed the discussion with the President as robust and focused on trade and economic relations between Kenya and the US.
She also met with Rebecca Miano, the Cabinet Secretary EAC and Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, as well as a host of other leaders from Kenya’s private sector, civil society and women and youth businesses. Tai also met Trade ministers from other East African Community (EAC) countries.
The Ministry of Trade and Investment is among the critical entities in the ongoing negotiations between Kenya and US on the STIP partnership. Kuria as the CS Trade is key and even be Kenya’s lead in such talks.
Reports indicated that Tai had cancelled two scheduled engagements with Kuria that were expected to discuss trade ties between the two countries.
Kuria’s recent outbursts did not, reportedly, sit well with the US Trade Representative. The Trade CS has in the recent past been captured insulting Nation Media Group and at the same time said any government agency found advertising with the media house would face consequences.
Tai is said to have opted to have meetings with other senior government representatives. These meetings, Tai told reporters yesterday, had been productive and constructive.
“My visit here is very much about advancing and deepening the US-Kenya relationship in economic as well as the US-economic and trade relationship with EAC,” she said, adding that she also met with EAC Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council.
“I spent most of yesterday (Tuesday) with the Trade Ministers from EAC and learned a lot from that engagement. The TIFA council meeting was extremely constructive and positive conversations.