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After AGOA, What Next?

Published date:
Saturday, 12 November 2005
The Nation (Nairobi)

Since the publication of the African Growth and Opportunity (AGOA) Act a few years, Kenya and a number of other African countries have reaped some benefits from exporting textiles to the US. Last year, for example, the country earned some Sh21.5 billion from the trade, a good figure by all means.

The principle behind Agoa was to facilitate trade between African states and the US. The latter ordinarily has stringent and restrictive policies that commonly knock out the developing countries.

Like any other policy, Agoa is time-bound. Were it not for the Acceleration Act of last year, Africans would in two years be ready to bid farewell to the programme. Now, however, they have another 10 years to go.

Having tasted the benefits of trade under Agoa and taking cognisant of the fact that the privilege will go sooner rather than later, Kenya and other African countries must think of ways to spread out.

Precisely, this is what an American trade official, Mr Finn Holm-Olsen, proposed during an Agoa workshop in Nairobi this week.

The first issue to address is: Can Kenya's textiles compete outside the Agoa framework? Using the experience gained in producing goods for Agoa, can Kenya penetrate the lucrative markets in Europe and Asia?

Secondly, can Kenya use the same framework to produce other equally attractive goods like handicraft, for which it has a comparative advantage over many others?

Thirdly, can Kenya reduce the cost of production by providing an efficient infrastructure, including transport and communication systems? Can it address the question of high taxes and bureaucracies that make trading a nightmare in this country?

Kenya's Export Processing Zone has come of age. The Agoa model seems to have worked well. Granted, time has come for us to move to other levels. Fixation with one particular model is the surest way to extinction.

Which is why we are asking players in the industry to think of moving to the next level - expand into other production areas and markets.

“AGOA Latest AGOA Trade Data on

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 include:

  • 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.

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