Kenya's industrialists on Tuesday signed an agreement with a regional investment body to help in the efforts to promote trade and investment under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The deal, which was inked in Nairobi between the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and the East Africa Trade And Investment Hub (EATIH), will also support policy reform activities and expansion of trading avenues.
KAM CEO Phyllis Wakiaga said the deal strengthens KAM's commitment in seizing the opportunity to realize better business opportunities beyond borders.
"We must go beyond the apparel export and strategize ways that we can explore the gains of approximately 6,400 products that are currently eligible for AGOA," Wakiaga said in Nairobi.
AGOA is a preferential market access system given to specific countries in Africa and the Caribbean by the United States.
Under the trade agreement, most of Sub Saharan African countries are allowed to export over 6,000 products duty free to the U.S. market.
Data from the Export Promotion Council indicates that Kenya's non-textile exports to Washington mostly consists of coffee, fruits, precious stones, nuts, cut flowers and tea, while its imports include machinery and other capital goods.
Wakiaga said AGOA offers great opportunities for Kenya's local businesses especially the SMEs.
"It is essential that we build their capacity to enable them leverage this partnership to realize financial sustainability for their businesses. Beyond this we are also looking to diversify our exports through this partnership and increase competitiveness of various agricultural value chains," she said.
Wakiaga said KAM will be organizing and hosting trade delegations, policy and investment promotion activities that will attract investment in the mutual priority sectors, that is, textile and garment, leather and leather products, agro processing, horticulture, ICT and cotton.
"Our country must work towards expanding the range of products that are currently being exported to U.S. market under AGOA," she said.
"African economic operators must now work towards addressing the underlying challenges that have prevented them in the last 15 years from seizing the opportunity to realize better business with the United States," said EATIH Chief of Party Juan Estrada-Valle.