Kenya should not upset big firms in US tax cheats plea – Business Daily
Kenya should tread carefully as it considers a request by the Biden administration to spy on American firms and investors for money laundering and tax evasion as a condition for a trade deal between the two countries.
The US government expects to turn the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) into its eyes abroad to alert it on firms that under-declare tax, especially custom duties. The US trade deal is crucial for the country.
Kenya exported Sh82.2 billion worth of goods to the US in 2021, of which more than 75 per cent entered duty-free under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), a trade preference programme for sub-Saharan African countries, but it expires in September 2025.
This is why Kenya has long been seeking a full free trade agreement with the US, having launched negotiations to lower bilateral tariffs during the Trump administration in 2020.
But the Biden administration wants Nairobi to enforce an agreement signed in 2014 that requires Kenya to spy to unlock the deal. Enforcing the monitoring request may upset big US corporations that are increasingly expanding their operations into Nairobi alongside high-net-worth investors who want to be assured of going around their private affairs away from the prying eyes of governments.
Kenya must ensure that it only shares information that is within the law and within the existing information sharing guidelines among friendly states to support initiatives of making sure all companies and businessmen operate within international law irrespective of the size of their investments.