US Commerce Secretary set for Kenya visit
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is scheduled to visit Kenya at the end of next month for a bi-lateral trade summit.
This will be Mr Ross’ first official visit to Africa and will see the top US trade envoy accompanied by more than 70 delegates from the US private sector, looking to broaden trade and investment ties with Kenya.
Outgoing US Ambassador Robert Godec announced the trade summit yesterday, stating that US investors were keen on exploring opportunities around the Government’s ‘Big Four’ agenda.
“Kenya and the US share a long and strong trade relationship and with a move to strengthen these ties the US Commerce Secretary will lead a 70-person delegation to Kenya at the end of June,” explained Godec.
The envoy was speaking at a meeting by the American Chamber of Commerce, Kenya, taking stock of trade opportunities between the two countries and challenges facing exporters.
“The summit next month will build on the successes made at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) held three years ago,” explained American Chamber of Commerce CEO Mr Maxwell Okello. The GES summit that saw former US President Barack Obama make his maiden trip to Kenya since becoming president, saw billions of dollars worth of investments signed between the two countries. “Out of GES we saw partnerships in energy, agriculture and infrastructure with the Nairobi-Mombasa express highway recently announced having its genesis at the summit and we are angling for the same with secretary Ross’s visit next month,” he said. Data from KNBS indicates that US exported Sh57 billion worth of goods to Kenya last year, up from Sh47 billion the previous year.
“Kenya’s trade with the US is skewed in favour of the US and we need to use mechanisms like the US African Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa) to level the playing field,” said Mr James Mureu, National Vice Chair of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We have more than 6,200 items that we can export under Agoa but we are doing less than 10 and all in textiles and apparel, so there is a large capacity gap to be filled by Kenyan producers.”