KENYA. Nairobi: As Kenya and the United States resume talks on the free trade agreement (FTA), lobby groups in Nairobi have insisted that the Kenya should not slip back on its stance on plastics.
Responding to the news that Kenya and the United States are set to resume talks on the bilateral trade agreement after a four-month break, Greenpeace Africa’s Senior Political Advisor, Fredrick Njehu has said that the talks should not be used as a justification to undermine Kenya’s efforts to regulate the use of single-use plastics.
“They should neither be used as a guise to gain access to the rest of the African continent. The new office of the US Trade Representative should pursue a new trade policy agenda that includes strong environmental sustainability elements, putting people first and not corporations”, Njehu said.
Kenya and the US formally launched negotiations for a free trade agreement on 8 July last year, months after president Kenyatta and former US President Donald Trump made the announcements in February 2020.
Last year, Greenpeace’s investigative journalism unit, Unearthed uncovered that the ACC wanted the United States government to insist that Kenya relax its existing plastic bans so that it could make Kenya a gateway to Africa for plastic trade – and then sell us recycling as a “false solution” to the environmental catastrophe it would cause.
The aforementioned exposé blew open the relationship between the plastic and petrochemical industries. Plastic is made of oil therefore its production is contributing to the climate change crisis we face.
“The new US Trade representative in the FTA, Katherine Tai, has an obligation to use trade deals to advance the goal of tackling the climate crisis the world is undergoing, and any further trade agreements that undermines this should be called off. Strengthening global cooperation amongst states should be the panacea of tackling the climate crisis”, said Njehu.
At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. Floating plastic debris is currently the most abundant item of marine litter. Waste plastic makes up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. Plastic has been detected on shorelines of all the continents, with more plastic materials found near popular tourist destinations and densely populated areas, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
“Greenpeace Africa hopes that Kenya’s government doesn’t chase every carrot dangling in front of it. Kenya should not backslide on its acclaimed plastic bans now that the FTA negotiations have resumed”, he concluded.