TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Kenyan exports boosted by duty-free status

Monday, 20 July 2009

Source: Reuters

Kenya's exports to the United States rose 8 percent to 20.6 billion shillings ($268 million) in 2008, largely due to U.S. legislation to promote African trade, Kenya's trade minister said on Monday.

The U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has granted duty-free access for many sub-Saharan African nations' products since 2000.

"Despite the problems we had here in Kenya, we did better than in 2007 with 20.6 billion shillings worth (of exports to the United States), up from 19.2 billion shillings in 2007," Amos Kimunya said, referring to post-election violence last year.

"The growth was in clothing and apparel, coffee and tea," he said. "Seventeen billion shillings out of the 20.6 billion were just in those three (exports)," he told reporters.

United States trade with sub-Saharan African countries remains small, despite the duty-free treatment accorded to 39 participating countries.

Sub-Saharan African countries accounted for just slightly more than 1 percent of total U.S. exports and about 3 percent of total U.S. imports in 2008.

Quotas have been lifted on textiles and clothing exports, further boosting Kenyan trade, Kimunya said.

Cut flowers and nuts were high-growth export sectors to the United States, worth 250 million shillings last year, he said.

AGOA, effective until 2015, opens the duty-free export door to more than 6,400 product lines including meat and livestock, vegetables and fruits, footwear, wine, chemicals, steel and motor vehicle components.

But Kenya exports less than 20 product lines to the United States, Kimunya said.

"We need to ask ourselves why we're not exporting the other 6,300-odd lines that are eligible in Kenya."

A pan-African forum to discuss AGOA will take place in Nairobi on Aug. 4-8, Kimunya said.

According to AGOA's website, the United States exported $440.7 million worth of goods to Kenya and imported merchandise worth $343.5 million from east Africa's biggest economy.

United States' exports to Kenya fell by $135.5 million in 2008, while Kenya's exports to the United States grew by $17.4 million in the same year, the statistics showed. (Editing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura)

“ 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.