Hello, America! USAID, direct flights to increase AGOA exports to US
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Hub will from November 2018 to March 2019 provide direct support in the audit and Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certification process.
Already, USAID is helping companies in the East African region become more export competitive.
WRAP is a minimum standard for social compliance where US textile and apparel buyers procure products from ethical and socially compliant companies.
The audit support comes at a time when direct flights from Nairobi to New York are about to start.
On October 16, the USAID Hub sponsored the US-Africa Trade Promotion Event organized by the Export Promotion Council in Nairobi.
The event to mark the launch of direct flights between Kenya and the US raised awareness of business opportunities in the US for Kenyan exporters that will result from improvements in trade logistics.
“We are committed to growing our investments and trade between Kenya and the USA. The Kenya Airways direct flight is one such example.
Kenyan businesses need to innovate and dare to be great,” said US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec.
The direct flights are eagerly awaited with pundits saying they will enable greater exchanges between Kenya and US.
The biggest two barriers hindering Kenya’s competitiveness in the US market are extended delivery times and high cargo freight costs.
Direct flights between the two countries will facilitate trade and investment and bring people, businesses and governments closer together for deeper relations and shared benefits.
In 2017, trade between the two countries stood at over $1 billion in goods, making Kenya the largest US trading partner in East Africa.
Exports to the US were woven apparel and knit apparel, both of which gained significant competitive advantages through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Over 70 per cent of Kenyan exports to the US entered under AGOA.
Kenya hopes to double the value of exports to the US by 2023 and the direct flights are expected to create opportunities for several sectors, including those highlighted in Kenya’s National AGOA Strategy and Action Plan, 2018-2023.
“We need to realize that we have a huge market opportunity in the USA. Let’s work to meet the requirements of this market. Knowledge and compliance are paramount,” said the Export Promotion Council Chairman, Jas Bedi.
The USAID Hub supports Kenyan firms to access the US market, especially through AGOA.
It provides firm-level technical assistance to help firms meet US market requirements like WRAP and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification.
The Hub also organises trade shows and buyer missions facilitating linkages with US businesses.
To make things easier, the Hub also produced an AGOA 101 Guide that provides a step-by-step process on how to leverage AGOA’s duty-free access to the US.
The Kenya Private Sector Alliance Chief Executive Officer Carole Kariuki said the US market and AGOA provide good opportunities to attract investors, transfer technology and provide capital and know-how to Kenya.