By: BRIAN NGUGI
Major plans are underway to boost the capacity of micro, small and medium-sized enterprise players to enable them leverage on the African Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa) through exports to the US market.
Experts say that despite the recent Agoa Extension and Enhancement Act of 2015, giving Kenya the opportunity to increase its trade volumes with the US, the country has failed to reach its potential.
In 2013, Kenya exported Sh4.47 billion worth of textiles and apparel, Sh100 million worth of leather, and Sh8.9 billion worth of vegetable and food products to the US.
“While this is encouraging, it leaves room for improvement. Kenya plans on increasing the annual exports margins from about $500 million to $1 billion by the time the extension is ending in 10 years (renewable),” says Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed.
This week, the ministry will hold a forum to educate micro, small and medium-sized businesses on the detailed regulations and benefits provided by the renewed Agoa Act and how to build their capacity for exporting products to the US.
Mr Mohamed said the forum will educate MSMEs from various sectors — construction, agro-processing exports, home decor, handloom, textiles and apparels, leather and fisheries.
“It’s time for MSMEs to leverage on this great opportunity we have as a nation with the Agoa Trade Act renewal. This forum is crucial in the process of expanding our export capacity to the US. The invaluable information that will be shared will give Kenyan MSMEs a platform to actively engage this market,” said the CS.
He said MSMEs have the opportunity to capitalise on several value chains and take advantage of the opportunities that allow trade in more than 6,300 products duty-free from Kenya to the US.
The government recently launched the Cold Chain Initiative Assessment Programme, in partnership with the US.
Officials say the initiative will fast track expansion of Kenya’s export portfolio while ensuring compliance with US standards and regulatory requirements on perishable products.
Ongoing negotiations between the two governments for direct flights are expected to lead to the opening up of market opportunities for small businesses.
The country is targeting Sh100 billion in export earnings from Agoa in the next two years, translating to thousands of new jobs.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION