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Kenya drops down list of top US trade partners

Published date:
Monday, 30 July 2007

Trade between Kenya and the United States dipped in the past year even as sub-Saharan Africa’s exports to the world’s largest economy continued to grow.

The decline saw Kenya lose its position among America’s top trading partners in Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius and Cameroon remain in the top league.

US exports to Africa leaped by 14 per cent in South Africa, 38 per cent in Nigeria, 67 per cent in Angola and 96 per cent in Equatorial Guinea.

“Exports to Kenya declined by 17 per cent, mainly due to a decline in aircraft sales that have been a key item in the trade, “ says the US-African trade profile report prepared in June.

During the past one year, US imports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, of which Kenya is eligible, were $44.2 billion, 16 per cent more than in 2005/06 period.

This included duty-free imports from AGOA-eligible countries under both the pre-existing US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP ) and the expanded AGOA GSP.

Reports further indicated that merchandise trade deficit between the US and sub-Saharan Africa continued grew to $47.1 billion in 2006 from $40.0 billion in 2005.

Nigeria, Angola, south Africa and Republic of Congo accounted for 89 per cent of the deficit.

The US market share in sub-Saharan Africa remained constant in 2005 at 5.9 per cent, with $10.3 billion in exports to the region according to IMF’s 2006 Direction of Trade Statistics Year Book.

In 2005, China, for the first time, became the world’s largest exporter to Africa with a market share of 7.7 per cent worth $13.4 billion having grown by a margin of 35.2 per cent.

Electrical and other machinery, motorcycles, woven fabrics, iron and steel products, woven and knit apparel, and low end footwear comprised the largest share of China’s growth in shipments to sub Saharan Africa.

Analysts say imports growth is underpinned by enhanced rate of economic growth that stood at an average of five per cent in the past three years.

“Robust growth in the region reflects favourable international conditions and substantially improved domestic policy environment that has improved countries’ supply potential,” says a World Bank report on the continent’s economy.

The report says economic growth in sub Saharan Africa is expected to rise to 5.3 per cent in 2007 and 5.4 per cent in 2008.

‘Excluding South Africa, growth among oil importers remained stable at 4.7 per cent in 2006. Growth among West African countries was relatively strong due to an agricultural recovery, appositive performance in the industrial sector, and strong exports, “ says the report obtained by Business Daily.

Both the WB and IMF emphasise that the removal of textile and apparel quotas by WTO members at the beginning of 2005 continued to cause a decline in value of African exports to the United States and European Union due to increased competition from China.

Kenya is this week hosting a trade mission from Dallas, Texas that is expected to explore opportunities for US investment in the country.

The group includes American importers and investors who are keen to source products from Kenya and explore investment and tourism opportunities at next week’s forum dubbed “building business linkages between Kenya and the US”.

It is meant to showcase Kenya as a source of world class products and a leading trade, investment and tourism destination.

Coffee and tea sectors, honey, commercial crafts, leather and leather products, textiles and apparels; Information Communication Technology (ICT); real estate, road construction, waste management, transport, airport administration will gain from the forum organised by the Export Promotion Council in collaboration with Kenya Investments Authority , Nairobi City Council, Kenya Private Sector Alliance and Kenya Association of Manufacturers, among others.

“ 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.

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