What Happened: The Chinese ambassador to Kenya said Beijing is ready to negotiate a deal with the East African Community (EAC) to address Nairobi's trade concerns, the South China Morning Post reported June 10. Kenya is looking to reduce its current trade deficit with China, specifically by exporting more agricultural products — some of which have been blocked from entering the country over biosafety concerns.
Why It Matters: The statement indicates China's willingness to consider a more limited trade deal (which Kenyan officials have pushed for, as opposed to a free trade agreement), as well as other types of economic assistance to accelerate Nairobi's industrialization process. The fact that the ambassador immediately pointed to negotiations with the EAC (which also includes Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan), instead of bilateral talks with Kenya, also speaks to China's broader regional intentions.
Background: Amid its trade war with the United States, China has sought to grow its economic ties in Africa in the hopes of ultimately creating a new and sustainable export market. As part of this push, Beijing is considering helping African nations access the Chinese market to demonstrate how the relationship would be mutually beneficial.
- Beijing Makes a Push To Keep China Working at All Costs (June 7, 2019)
- Understanding East Africa's Power Politics, One Core at a Time (May 16, 2018)