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Kenya eyes more exports to US at Agoa summit

By Graham Kajilwa | Published Mon, September 19th 2016 at 00:00, Updated September 18th 2016 at 20:13 GMT +3
State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu

Kenya will push for a 500 per cent increase in exports to the American market during the upcoming African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) Forum.

State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said yesterday the country will be looking into ways to maximise the agreement's benefits - as out of the Sh300 billion potential, its exports are worth just about Sh50 billion.

"Yes, we are making greater use of the agreement but there is still a lot that can be done to improve the trade balance," said Mr Esipisu.

He said Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed will represent the country at the 15th annual forum, to run between September 22 and 26 in Washington DC.

"We are currently the leading African country in utilising the Agoa trade agreement. From the forum, we hope to get several avenues which can be utilised to increase trade," said Mr Esipisu.

Agoa, also referred to as the United States Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Co-operation, gives a chance to African countries to trade with the US under preferential treatment, mainly tax-free.

It was first enacted in May 2000 but was renewed for another 10 years to 2025 following President Barack Obama's visit to Kenya last year.

Some of the sectors covered under Agoa are agricultural products, steel, chemicals, leather, and some motor vehicle components.

Last year, Kenya's imports from the US increased by over Sh110 million to Sh150 billion while exports grew by a staggering 20 per cent to Sh50 billion.

Earlier, it had been reported that President Uhuru Kenyatta would be taking part in the Agoa discussions after the 71st New York, United Nation General Assembly.

However, Mr Esipisu yesterday explained that Deputy President William Ruto would instead attend United Nations General Assembly summit since the President is engaged in other pressing matters, concerning the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) Summit held in Somalia and the crisis in South Sudan.

"But I assure you the level of engagement will remain the same," said Mr Esipisu.

"Following the Igad meeting in Mogadishu, last week, there are a series of follow-up sessions that His Excellency needs to personally attend to, given that Kenya is a senior player in the region alongside Ethiopia," he was quoted as saying on President Kenyatta's change of plans earlier.

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