2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties
BITs or FTAs
In 2018, Kenya did not sign any new BITs or FTAs with other countries. Kenya’s BIT with Japan was signed in 2016 and came into force in 2017. Kenya’s BIT with the Republic of Korea was signed in 2014 and entered into forced in 2017.
Bilateral Taxation Treaties
The United States does not have a free trade agreement, bilateral investment treaty, or bilateral taxation treaty with Kenya. Kenya, however, is a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a U.S. trade preference and export promotion policy, which Congress renewed in 2015 for an additional 10 years. Under AGOA, Kenyan exporters enjoy duty-free access to U.S. markets for products falling under more than 6,400 tariff lines. Kenya’s primary exports to the United States under AGOA are apparel and accessories, coffee, tea, and nuts. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics’ 2018 Economic Survey, apparel exported under AGOA decreased to USD 327 million in 2017, down 4.6 percent from USD 344 million in 2016. Kenya, however, remains the largest textile exporter under AGOA. In 2019, the United States and Kenya established a bilateral Trade and Investment Working Group (TIWG) to deepen trade and investment ties between the two countries, including exploratory talks on a future bilateral trade and investment framework.
The GOK has trade facilitation agreements (TFA) through the WTO, EAC Customs Union Protocol, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Protocol on FTA, and the EU-EAC economic partnership agreement. The nine COMESA FTA member countries are Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The other 10 COMESA countries that are not part of the FTA trade with Kenya on preferential terms, observing tariff reductions between 60 and 80 percent. The status of EU-EAC economic partnership agreement is unclear at this time because of the failure of Tanzania and Uganda to renew the agreement in 2016 and 2017. Kenya is continuing to participate in negotiations towards an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which seeks to establish the largest free-trade areas since the formation of the WTO.
According to World Bank and Price Waterhouse Coopers’ 2018 Paying Taxes Report, Kenya improved marginally in the ease of paying taxes, rising to 91 in 2018. The report shows that a medium sized company in Kenya pays a total tax rate of 37.2 percent, 9.8 percent less than the sub Saharan Africa average of 47 percent and below the global average of 40.4 percent. The iTax system launched by the Kenya Revenue Authority in mid-2015 has reduced tax compiling time from 186 hours in 2016 to 180 in 2017, compared to the global average of 237 hours. Kenya, however, still performs poorly in the post-filing index, which measures value-added tax (VAT) refunds and corrections made to corporate income tax returns, scoring only 59.6 out of 100 in post-filing efficiency.
10. Political and Security Environment
Political tensions over the protracted and contentious 2017 election cycle spilled well into 2018. In March 2018, however, President Kenyatta and opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga publicly shook hands and pledged to work together to heal the political, social, and economic divides revealed by the election. The 2017 electoral period had been marred by violence that claimed the lives of nearly 100 Kenyans, a contentious political atmosphere pitting the ruling Jubilee Party against NASA, and political interference and attacks by both sides on key institutions. In November 2017, the Kenyan Supreme Court unanimously upheld the October 2017 repeat presidential election results and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win in an election boycotted by NASA leader Odinga. The court’s ruling brought a close to Kenya’s protracted 2017 election cycle, a period that included the Supreme Court’s historic September 2017 annulment of the August 2017 presidential election and the unprecedented repeat election.
The United States’ Travel Advisory for Kenya advises U.S. citizens to exercise increased caution due to the threat of crime and terrorism, and not to travel to counties bordering Somalia and to certain coastal areas due to terrorism. Instability in Somalia has heightened security concerns and led to increased security measures aimed at businesses and public institutions around the country. Tensions flare occasionally within and between ethnic communities. Regional conflict, most notably in Ethiopia, Somalia, and South Sudan, sometimes have spill-over effects in Kenya. There could be an increase in refugees escaping drought and instability in neighboring countries, adding to the large refugee population already in Kenya from several countries. Security expenditures represent a substantial operating expense for businesses in Kenya.
Kenya and its neighbors are working together to mitigate the threats of terrorism and insecurity through African-led initiatives such as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the nascent Eastern African Standby Force (EASF). Despite attacks against Kenyan forces in Somalia, the GOK has maintained its commitment to promoting peace and stability in Somalia.
13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
|Direct Investment From/in Counterpart Economy Data|
|From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)|
|Inward Direct Investment||Outward Direct Investment|
|Total Inward||$3,885||100%||Total Outward||$803||100%|
|“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.|
Source: IMF Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS). Figures are from 2012 (latest available). IMF no longer publishes Kenya data as part of its CDIS.
Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
|Portfolio Investment Assets|
|Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)|
|Total||Equity Securities||Total Debt Securities|
|All Countries||$3,885||100%||All Countries||$2,817||100%||All Countries||$833||100%|
Source: IMF Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey (CPIS). Figures are from 2012 (latest available). IMF no longer publishes Kenya data as part of its CPIS.