Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday said Kenya sees no conflict in pursuing close ties with both the United States and China, reported Reuters.
The statement comes just a day before the Kenyan president is scheduled to meet U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday to begin talks on a potential free trade agreement.
Without giving much detail, Kenyatta said his country was keen to secure its economic future ahead of the expiry of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. The act allows sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products ranging from textiles to manufactured items without tariffs or quotas to the United States until 2025.
Kenyatta said his country had no interest to be involved in any proxy war between the world’s two largest economies after decades of Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union that also played out in Africa.
“We don’t want to be forced to choose. We want to work with everybody, and we think there is an opportunity for everybody,” Kenyatta told an event hosted by the Atlantic Council.
The Kenyan president said stronger bilateral trade ties with the United States would not undermine the African Continental Free Trade Agreement signed by 54 of 55 African Union members. He added that Kenyan’s economy was more developed and advanced as compared to other African nations, and it could serve as a pacesetter for others.
Scott Eisner, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Africa Business Center, said President Trump could send a formal notice to Congress as early as next week, paving the way for negotiations on a comprehensive, high-standard agreement with Kenya.
A U.S.-Kenya free trade agreement (FTA) would be the first such pact signed between Washington and a country in sub-Saharan Africa, and only the second FTA with any African country. In 2004, the Us government signed an FTA with Morocco.