February 23, 2020

U.S. to Start Trade Talks With Kenya to Counter China’s Influence

Mr. Lighthizer said in a radio interview in early 2018 that Africa was only a few years away from being the world’s population center, “and if we don’t figure out a way to move them right, then China and others are going move them in the wrong direction,” according to the publication Inside U.S. Trade.

China has lent vast sums of money to African governments and built ports, roads, airports and bridges around the continent as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. The projects include a 300-mile, $4 billion railway in Kenya that has linked Nairobi and Mombasa.

China says its investments in Africa are aimed purely at driving economic development, and many countries have welcomed improvements to their infrastructure that have aided the flow of commerce. But some projects have left governments, including Kenya’s, saddled with billions of dollars of debt to China and sparked distrust and resentment.

In a 2018 speech in Washington attended by many African officials, Mr. Lighthizer said that many African countries had signed free-trade agreements with some of America’s largest “competitors,” like the European Union and China, and that these governments were investing heavily.

“My sense, however, is that many of you recognize the value of diversifying your commercial ties, and I know you recognize what American companies bring to the table,” Mr. Lighthizer told the African officials.

Scott Eisner, the president of the U.S.-Africa Business Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a call with reporters on Wednesday that Kenya had made the most forceful case to the administration for starting trade talks.

“It really is who was willing to raise their hand and who had the most political will behind it,” he said.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/business/economy/trump-kenya-trade-talks.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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