President Uhuru Kenyatta, announced today that he desires a closer relationship with both the United State and China, on his meeting with the US President Donald Trump on a potential free trade agreement.
“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 the audience at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council think-tank.
“Kenya, is bent on securing its economic future and can benefit from closer partnerships with both the US and China”, Kenyatta said. While there has been a rise in tourism and growing investment, the East African nation needs to boost exports to create jobs at home for millions of young people.
Kenyatta’s meeting with Trump is especially pertinent as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which allows sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the US without tariffs or quotas, is set to expire in 2025.
John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, in 2018 announced plans to expand US economic ties with African nations to counter what he called aggressive efforts by China and Russia to expand their influence there.
“Kenya can have several best friends – the United States, China, Great Britain, the European Union and others. They need to do what is best for them to progress their economy, build their infrastructure and push the country forward,” said Johnnie Carson, a former US ambassador to Kenya.
Kyle McCarter, the current US envoy to Kenya, told Reuters that he viewed Kenya as an important strategic partner in Africa and looked forward to expanded trade in coming years.
“I don’t believe that a deepening of trade between our two countries … threatens anything,” President Kenyatta said.