TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Kenya: Agoa Focus Shifts to Agro Products

Monday, 17 January 2005

Source: The East African (Nairobi)

With Kenya's clothing exports to the United States facing enormous competitive challenges, efforts to increase trade between the two countries are starting to focus on other products covered by the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).

Particular attention is being given to the agricultural sector. Its largely untapped potential is being touted by Kenyan ambassador Leonard Ngaithe, who says that Kenyan smallholders can gain a much larger US market share for their coffee, tea, flowers and pyrethrum.

KenyaBut Kenyan farmers need greater American assistance in order to compete effectively, Mr Ngaithe said last week in a speech at the Library of Congress in Washington. Kenya's small agricultural producers must be trained to meet international sanitary standards, he explained. And they require easier access to credit from US trade-promotion agencies, he added.

"Unless we strengthen the foundations of Africa's most productive sectors, such as agriculture, sustainable economic growth and development in Africa will continue to be elusive, and Africa will continue to be a basket case," Mr Ngaithe warned.

The envoy noted that Kenyan smallholders, who are mostly women, now account for much of the production of the country's leading agricultural exports.

Most of the coffee and tea that Kenya sells abroad comes from farms averaging 0.5 hectares, Mr Ngaithe said. "The flower industry now boasts an annual income of over $110 million from small producers. In addition, over 200,000 smallholder families grow pyrethrum in Kenya accounting for 70 per cent of the world's pyrethrum, 60 per cent being exported to the US," he said.

"Kenya's experience shows that, given an opportunity, local smallholder private business and agricultural producers can be just as competitive as their Latin American and Asian counterparts."

Mr Ngaithe spoke at a Congressional Research Service seminar examining US agricultural trade with Africa.

Other speakers pointed out that while Agoa has greatly benefited Kenya's apparel exporters over the past four years, those gains are now in jeopardy following the removal earlier this month of all quotas on international textile and apparel sales. As a result, low-cost and high-volume producers such as China and India are expected to take away much of the US market share that African clothing exporters have attained through Agoa.

Energy products account for about 75 per cent of the duty-free exports that African countries ship under the terms of Agoa. Textile and apparel account for 17 per cent of total Agoa sales, while agricultural products represent only 2 per cent of Agoa exports to the US.



“AGOA Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on AGOA.info


Click here to view a sector profile of Kenya’s bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.


Other regularly updated trade statistics on AGOA.info include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.