Kenya trade agreement may help MidSouth producers
Seeking to continue its streak of bi and tri-lateral trade agreements, the Trump administration has set its sights on Kenya. Africa is the most rapidly growing continent in terms of both population and economic expansion, and more buying power means a demand for higher quality food staples such as rice.

Kenya is a large consumer of rice, producing it domestically and importing more than 500,000 tons annually, with a peak of nearly 625,000 tons in 2017. Current imports are primarily long grain rice grown in Pakistan, Thailand, and India. Imports of American grown rice have been minimal.

Kenya's population is growing rapidly, with more than 50 million people in 2019 compared to less than 9 million in 1960. U.S. grown rice shipped to Kenya currently faces a 35 percent tariff, while Kenyan products enter the U.S. duty-free through the African Growth and Opportunity Act. The United States Trade Representative (USTR) indicated that they will be formally notifying Congress of their intent to negotiate a trade agreement, followed by a call for public input. "We look forward to negotiating and concluding a comprehensive, high-standard agreement with Kenya that can serve as a model for additional agreements across Africa," said USTR Ambassador Robert Lighthizer.

Following the news, advocates for the U.S. rice industry sprang into action in an attempt to help secure a portion of this increasingly valuable market for American growers.

"USA Rice will be taking a deeper look into market potential for sales of U.S. rice to Kenya and surrounding African nations as populations and demand for rice in the region grow," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. "We appreciate the Administration's robust approach totrade this year, and eliminating the duty U.S. rice faces in Kenya would go a long way to
building a new market for U.S. rice."

USA Rice recently participated in a United States-Kenya Small and Medium Enterprise Roundtable hosted by USTR. The event sought to identify and discuss ways to strengthen commercial cooperation between businesses as well as how to reduce barriers and increase trade between the two countries.

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