Kenya lifts ban on U.S. wheat imports with Free Trade Agreement to follow

KENYA – Kenya has lifted a trade barrier to allow U.S. wheat growers in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) access to Kenya’s wheat market for the first time in over a decade after the U.S.- Kenya Trade and Investment Working Group adopted a phytosanitary protocol.

According to a report by US wheat associates, the U.S. Trade representatives are set to undertake discussion with Kenya on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), mandated under the renewal of the 2015 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

An FTA between the two countries could provide more favourable tariff and sanitary-phytosanitary (SPS) provisions for U.S. wheat in a market that annually imports around 2.0 million metric tons (MMT).

Historically Kenya has maintained a non-scientific SPS barrier against U.S. wheat from this region due to concerns about the potential presence of a plant disease known as Flag Smut.

Kenya’s ban has also impacted U.S. wheat exports to Uganda as it is a land-locked country therefore uses Kenya’s port facilities, which forces them to abide by Kenya’s import requirements.

Kenya’s domestic wheat production only meets around 10 percent of its annual demand.

The country sources much of its wheat import volume from Russia, Ukraine and the EU which often has a price and freight advantage over PNW wheat supplies.

That combination of obstacles puts the key to expanding U.S. wheat market share in an FTA that would resolve remaining SPS issues and provide a tariff advantage to U.S. wheat.

This would allow Kenyan flour millers access to quality U.S. wheat supplies at a lower cost.

The United States currently supplies around 5 percent of this market, or about 120,000 MT per year.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) believes announcement to launch negotiations with Kenya is a step in the right direction that has the potential to serve as a model for trade negotiations with other African countries to follow.

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