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Kenyan firms await AGOA forum

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 3 – About 132 Kenyan companies will have the opportunity to showcase their products at the sidelines of the 8th Sub-Saharan African Trade and Economic Forum in Nairobi next month.

Organisers will put together a trade fair during the three day African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum where exhibitors will have the opportunity to share knowledge and network with participants expected at the meeting.

“The objective of the exhibition is to showcase the products available in the African market for the US (United States of America) market. Besides having access to the US market, we will also be able to access the African ones,” said the Chief Executive Officer of the AGOA Exhibition Solomon Kinyanjui.

Over 3,000 delegates are expected to the Forum under the theme ‘Realising the Full Potential of AGOA through expansion of trade and investment’ and which allows officials from AGOA eligible countries to review the implementation of the Act and chart closer ties between the US and Sub-Saharan Africa.

AGOA which was signed into law in May 2000 offers tangible incentives for 41 African countries to continue working towards opening their economic and building free markets.

Since its inception, the Act has encouraged new investments, trade and job creation in the Continent as well as the promotion of the region’s integration into the multilateral trading system.

“About 300 delegates from the United States of America and over 2,000 more from 40 African countries have confirmed participation,” disclosed Mr Kinyanjui of the event which might also result in spot sales and trial orders.

The forum, which kicks off on August 4 to 6 is structured to have government to government ministerial meetings, those between US and African private sectors and the civil society.

Export Promotion Council (EPC) reckoned that Kenya stands to gain significantly from hosting the forum and hopefully increase the share of duty free quota free exports to the US market in the coming years.

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At a briefing on Friday, EPC Export Market Development Manager Samuel Matonda said Kenya’s total exports to the USA increased by seven percent to Sh20.5 billion last year and the trend might continue in coming years.

“If you look at the products such as cut flowers that we are targeting, it (trade) could really increase tremendously because we could sell as much as we are selling to Europe because America is a big market,” he said although he acknowledged that it could be difficult to estimate the margin by which this could grow.

Exports to the US, which is the among Kenya’s export market destinations have been on an upward trend since 2004 driven mainly by the high demand for textiles and apparels which accounts for 75 percent of the total exports.

However, Kenya has not taken full advantage of the Act under which 6,400 items enjoy preferential market access and only offers a small percentage of these products including coffee, tea, processed fruits and pyrethrum.

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