NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 23 – The low uptake of goods that are available for export into to the US market through the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) programme will be a major issue of focus during this year’s forum to be hosted in the country.
Trade Minister Amos Kimunya on Tuesday said efforts will be made to ascertain why exporters have only taken advantage of 20 of the products despite 6,400 lines being available, when Kenya hosts the 8th Sub-Saharan African Trade and Economic Forum between August 4th and 6th in Nairobi.
He pointed out that this was not a problem just affecting Kenya, but other countries within the Sub Saharan region too.
“Initial research indicates that transport has been listed as one of the major challenges by Kenyan exporters in their bid to access the American market,” Mr Kimunya indicated.
He observed that this problem could have been sorted out through the introduction of direct flights in and out of America by Delta Airlines which aborted early this month.
“But discussions on the matter are still on-going and hopefully, the Airline should start flights into the country soon,” Mr Kimunya said.
Speaking at the same forum, American Ambassador Michael Ranneberger said past records indicated that most Kenyan exporters find it difficult to finance their export business into America.
Mr Ranneberger suggested increased partnerships between Kenyan and American exporters to overcome this challenge.
“We do have an operation within this country to assist exporters to find it easier to access the US market,” the ambassador explained.
He challenged Kenyan exporters to change the misconception that it is hard to access the American market.
AGOA is a United States Trade Act that is intended to enhance the US market access for 39 sub-Saharan African countries currently.
The Act originally covered an eight-year period from October 2000 to September 2008, but amendments signed into law by US President George Bush in July 2004 further extend AGOA to 2015.
AGOA builds on existing US trade programs by expanding the (duty-free) benefits previously available only under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program.
Duty-free access to the US market under the combined AGOA/GSP program stands at approximately 7,000 product tariff lines, including the roughly 1,800 product tariff lines that were added to the GSP by the AGOA legislation.
These include items such as apparel and footwear, wine, certain motor vehicle components, a variety of agricultural products, chemicals, steel and others.
The 7th AGOA Forum was held on July 15, in Washington DC.