The African Growth and Opportunity Act (known as “AGOA”) which aimed to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and improve economic relations between the U.S. and the region is out of step with the new trade deals of the Trump administration.
In other words, time’s up. A new economic plan is on the drawing board and African leaders suspect it’s a Trumpian take it or leave it deal.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to be the first to sign on to the bilateral “free-trade agreement” at a Rose Garden meeting with Pres. Donald Trump in Washington this week. It will be America’s first such deal with a sub-Saharan nation and replace the 20 year old AGOA that expires in 2025.
AGOA, which provides 39 sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the U.S. for about 6,500 products ranging from textiles to manufactured items, has come under increasing criticism in Washington, which wants fast-growing African economies to open up to U.S. goods and services.
But the model agreement has few fans among African leaders who have a preference for multilateralism as they move towards an African Continental Free Trade Agreement which comes into force in July.
“The Trump administration wants to do bilateral deals, not multilateral deals,” said Aubrey Hruby, in an interview with the Financial Times.
Macharia Kamau, Kenya’s principal secretary for foreign affairs, hinted at the risks for Kenya’s fragile, sometimes flailing, economy. “They could easily swamp our markets into oblivion,” he said. “Any deal cannot be at the expense of our local capabilities, which are nascent at best.”
Meanwhile, in late-breaking news from Kenya, flags are flying at half-mast for Daniel arap Moi who served as Kenya’s president from 1978 to 2002. He died peacefully this week at Nairobi Hospital, according to his son Sen. Gideon Moi. Daniel arap Moi was 95 years old.
Moi was an autocratic leader who ruled for more than 20 years.
“Our nation and our continent were immensely blessed by the dedication and service of the late Mzee Moi; who spent almost his entire adult life serving Kenya and Africa,” Pres. Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement. He came to power in 1978, upon the death of Pres. Jomo Kenyatta, having been vice-president until then.
Diplomats said an attempted coup four years later transformed him from a cautious, insecure leader into a tough autocrat.
Pres. Uhuru Kenyatta has declared a period of national mourning to last until the funeral day, with the national flag being flown at half-mast.