Kenya to Earn Sh11b From Textile Sales to US
Kenya is expected to earn Sh11 billion this year from the export of locally manufactured clothing and textile products to the United States, an American diplomat says.
Mr Thomas G. Hart, the counsellor for public affairs at the Nairobi Embassy, told reporters that exports of Kenyan textile products to the US had increased tremendously following the enactment of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).
The law allows duty-free exports of selected goods and products from African countries into the American market.
Mr Hart was speaking in Nakuru town on Tuesday where he accompanied Ambassador Johnnie Carson in a tour of Bedi Investments Ltd, a textile firm. He said that exports of textile products to the US earned Kenya close to Sh6 billion last year. This was an increase from the Sh1.5 billion earned in 2000.
The US official said Agoa had stimulated productivity in the country where the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) estimates that close to 40,000 direct jobs had been created over the past two years in the textile industry.
A director of Bedi Investments Ltd, Mr J.S. Bedi, said the firm had employed 500 people since it started exporting products to the American market.
"Before we started exporting our products two years ago, we had 350 workers but the number has shot up to 850," Mr Bedi said.
Mr Hart said that after the year 2004 only companies manufacturing products using raw material from the continent would be allowed to sell their goods into the American market.
"Currently we have a situation where some companies are importing polyester and other cotton products from non-African countries including China and then exporting their processed goods to the US market," Mr Hart said.
He said Kenyan farmers, ginneries and spinners will be the main beneficiaries when textile firms will be restricted to using local material to make manufacturer products destined for the US market.
The Managing Director of Bedi Investments Ltd, Mr K.S. Bedi told reporters that textile firms are currently importing polyester and cotton from South Africa, and some European and Asian countries.
Mr Bedi who is also the chairman of the Nakuru chapter of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers said it was important that government and farmers step up the production of cotton to ensure that textile manufacturers will manage to obtain all the required raw material locally by the year 2004.
He lamented that local textile firms were still facing experiencing marketing problems due to stiff competition posed by the dumping of cheap imported textile products.
Mr Bedi said some countries within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) were reluctant to allow Kenyan textile products into the markets duty free.
"We have raised this issue with the Ministry of Trader, Commerce and Industry which has taken up the matter with the concerned governments," Mr Bedi said.