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New deal eases access for Kenyan goods to US

By Wainaina Wambu | Feb 7th 2020 | 2 min read
By Wainaina Wambu | February 7th 2020

Kenya and the US have revised an air transport agreement to allow easy movement of goods between the two countries.

In a big boost to trade, airlines can now set up and operate air cargo hubs in either country following the amendment of the all-cargo rights.

“Specifically, the amendment allows US all-cargo airlines to fly between Kenya and a third nation without needing to stop in the United States, an important right if operating a cargo hub. Kenyan all-cargo carriers have reciprocal rights to serve the United States,” said a statement from the US State Department.

The US further said the rights gave carriers greater flexibility to meet their cargo and express delivery and meet customers’ needs more efficiently.

The US State Department said the amendment would be implemented “following an exchange of diplomatic notes.”

“It has been applied on the basis of comity and reciprocity since it was negotiated on December 4, 2019,” said the State Department

The amendment to the US-Kenya Air Transport Agreement added the “seventh-freedom traffic rights for all-cargo operations” to the pact.

The amendment was signed by Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh.

Mr Macharia is part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s entourage in Washington where Uhuru was scheduled to meet his American counterpart, Donald Trump, later yesterday.

“This amendment further expands our strong economic and commercial partnership, while creating new opportunities for all-cargo airlines, exporters, and consumers.”

Trade ties

The US State Department said that it marked progress in the liberalisation of the international civil aviation sector in Africa.

The agreement comes slightly over a year after Kenya Airways started direct passenger flights to New York in 2018.

Kenya and the US have in the recent past sought to strengthen their trade ties.

Uhuru and Trump were expected to announce negotiations on a free-trade agreement after their meeting.

The trade arrangement guarantees a continued market access for Kenya’s products in the US market following the expiry of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) in 2025.

Kenya has benefited from Agoa as a garment exports leader. The agreement allows Sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the US without tariffs or quotas.

If the free trade deal happens, it will be America’s first such deal with a Sub-Saharan Africa country.

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