TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Kenya: Textiles Won't Save Exporters

Friday, 30 June 2006

Source: The Nation (Nairobi)

Overdependence on textile exports is partly to blame for the woes now facing Kenya two years before a key trade treaty with the United States runs out.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) purports to offer textile producers from the continent preferential access to the United States market.

But now the Export Promotion Council (EPC) is advising producers to begin diversifying if they wish to be cushioned against competition from Asian textile producers before the treaty ends in 2008.


EPC chief executive Matanda Wabuyele said that to achieve diversity, the council is facilitating various activities in export development, promotion and building of business-to-business links between local producers and US importers.

The EPC believes that, by changing the focus from the traditional textile and apparel export to the other 6,000 commodities allowed to enter the US market without duty under Agoa, Kenya will also bridge the huge trade gap between the two countries.

The gap is now estimated at Sh37.5 billion in America's favour. Central Bureau of Statistic data indicate that, in 2005, Kenya's exports to the US stood at Sh4.5 billion, while US exports to Kenya were worth a cool Sh42 billion.

"Kenya has not fully exploited the Agoa opportunities since its exports to the US continue to be dominated by textiles," said Mr Steve Ndele, an aid development programme specialist at the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) in Kenya. "Therefore, there is a need not only to diversify but also to expand to the US market."

He was speaking on Tuesday during a workshop organised by Usaid and EPC where they released a report on how handicraft makers and exporters can penetrate the US market.

The workshop is part of the Usaid/EPC Trade Development Programme launched last August 4 by the Trade and Industry minister Mukhisa Kituyi.

Its main objective is to broaden, consolidate and expand Kenya's export base and market share in the US.

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available 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: (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.