NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – Kenya’s international image is set for a major boost when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads an American trade delegation to the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum next month.
Trade Minister Amos Kimunya says Mrs Clinton will be accompanied by the Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of Commerce among others.
“These three will lead the 300 members of the government delegation,” Mr Kimunya said.
The country’s image as an ‘island of peace” was dealt a blow by last year’s post-election violence and the resultant poor governance that has been cited by President Barack Obama during his visit to Ghana early this month.
Briefing the media on the progress of the on-going plans for the forum, Mr Kimunya said registration was well on course with local businessmen having nearly superseded their targeted quarter. He therefore refuted fears that the private sector had been sidelined in the planning process for the forum.
“The number of people who had registered to participate as of (Tuesday) was over 700 from the private sector and all the exhibition booths have been taken up; that’s commitment,” Mr Kimunya noted.
The Trade Minister went on to reassure that the government had provided for participation by the civil society despite concerns that some of the groups might want to hold demonstrations at the forum.
“Our civil society is actually organising its own participation within the conference,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Kimunya has called on the media to provide more positive coverage on the country in support of the government’s efforts to host another big conference next year – the African Chapter of the World Economic forum.
“People don’t want to visit a country where they imagine nothing is right as a result of headlines that imply the same,” Mr Kimunya observed.
The AGOA Forum is set to take place from August 4 to 8.
Kenya through AGOA exports to the US 20 products which include cut flowers, textile, tea and coffee among other products.
United States trade with sub-Saharan African countries remains small, despite the duty-free treatment accorded to the 39 participating countries.