By Luke Anami
Ethiopia is set to host this year’s African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) as Kenya fails to fully exploit the trade agreement with the largest US market. Agoa allows African countries to export more than 6,000 products to the US market duty free.
The Ethiopia-US 2013 Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, known as the Agoa Forum, will take place on August 12-13, in Addis Ababa. It is themed “Sustainable Transformation through Trade and Technology.”
“The opportunities that exist within Agoa are huge. We haven’t taken full advantage of the entire line of goods given,” Vimal Shah, Chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) told The Standard. “This is because in Africa we haven’t been pro-active about the supply and demand issues that govern such an act.”
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Vimal said Kenya exports less than 30 products yet the trade deal offers a market for more than 6,400 products from Africa. Agoa is expected to expire in 2015. Kepsa has persuaded the US administration to extend the deal or make it permanent.
US President Barack Obama promised to have it extended. “We need to have Agoa made a permanent feature. This will grant us opportunities for exports to the largest market of goods in the world,” Jaswinder Bedi, Chairman of the African Cotton and Textiles Industries Federation, said.
Kenya is one of the main beneficiaries of Agoa, having realised $3.94 billion, $4.67 billion and $5.83 billion worth of exports in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively.
“The preferential market access through Agoa has spurred the growth of the textile sector - growing at 44 per cent a year,” said Joseph Kosure, Head of Bilateral Trade at the Ministry of East African Affairs.