Okoa Mombasa calls for delay to US-Kenya trade agreement negotiations

Photo by chuttersnap on UnsplashOkoa Mombasa today called for a delay to impending negotiations on a trade agreement between Kenya and the United States, in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

The coalition’s statement came in its official submission to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), which issued a call for public comments on the proposed trade deal on 23 March 2020. The comment procedure is designed to give all interested parties an opportunity to provide input on US negotiating positions.

Okoa Mombasa’s comments emphasized that the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic does not present a conducive environment for negotiations, because Government resources in Kenya are currently directed towards addressing the pandemic.

“We call on the USTR to delay the commencement of negotiations until there is a greater understanding and appreciation of the post-Covid world and its impact on the status quo,” Okoa Mombasa wrote in the comment.

In the event that negotiations do proceed, Okoa Mombasa’s comment said it was important that any agreement should include language that protects internationally recognized labor rights and other human rights, promotes transparency and accountability, and ensures the consultation of various sectors – including small businesses, informal traders and civil society – during negotiations.

The full comment can be read here.

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