Kenya and US in advance talks on AGOA extension as exports soar to Sh50b
People Daily | 6th October 2023
By Nicholas Waitathu
Kenya and the United States are in advanced talks to extend the African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) for another 10 years.
Industry Principal Secretary Juma Mukhwana disclosed that his trade counterpart Alfred K’ Ombudo is in the US to escalate the talks and conclude the same in order to allow smooth trade operations between the two countries.
The high-level talks between officials of the two governments follow the conclusion of a visit to the US by President William Ruto.
Mukhwana said the country has continued to access the United States market under the Agoa since 2000, an opportunity that has led to the continued growth of textile and apparel industry among other sub-sectors.
“I can confirm the talks between the two governments are at progressive stage and there is positive indication of us being granted the 10-year extension,” he stated.
Mukhwana made the remarks at a Nairobi hotel during a media briefing on the International Textile Machinery Exhibition (ITME) Africa and Middle East 2023 to be held later next month to early December in Nairobi.
The talks come at a time data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS ) shows that export of duty-free goods to the US under Agoa crossed the Sh50 billion mark after declining last year. It indicates that the value grew by 20 per cent, marking one of the biggest leaps in seven years. The goods, mainly textile products, increased from Sh42.2 billion in 2020 to Sh50.6 billion in the review period. “All the selected indicators under the EPZ garment and apparel sub-sector reported growths in 2021,” said the KNBS. Mukhwana said the US trade opportunity is over and above other strategies Kenya is fast-tracking to expand her share in the international market.
He gave the example of the recently concluded Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs) with the European Union, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), bilateral agreements and through treaties under the regional blocs.
India Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya Rohit Vadhwana said that companies from his country are eager to set up their manufacturing factories in the country as part of expanding her share in Kenya and Africa.
“We have commissioned a study to find out how many Indian companies have a presence in Kenya. This is over and above new companies exploring investment opportunities in Kenya,” he said.
The exhibition, Mukhwana said will supplement government’s efforts to revive the cotton industry and more so as to help in creating more job opportunities.
Kenya is the leading exporter of textile and apparel to the US market under the Agoa trade framework. Under the Export Processing Zones (EPZ), 31 companies process high quality textile products that access the US market.
The event to be graced by 125 companies drawn from 23 countries in Africa, Middle East and sub-continent of India seeks to promote textile technology and engineering.
The PS reiterated the government’s passion to enhance investments by offering incentives to foreign investors interested in extending their wealth in Kenya.