Kenya’s decision to hire a firm to lobby for its interests with the US government is spot on.
This is because the country is one of the many that have greatly benefited from the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa), a trade initiative that allows Kenya to export goods to the US on preferential terms.
The window is now under threat of being cut off, due to a US trade association’s proposal to have all East African Community (EAC) member states barred from participating.
The US decision stems from EAC’s decision to phase out importation of second-hand clothes by 2019, which is seen as not promoting Agoa’s “economic policies to reduce poverty” -- and which could lead to Kenya’s expulsion from Agoa.
If the threats are actualised, Kenya stands to lose more than 66,000 direct and indirect jobs, as well as the billions of shillings in revenues generated from exports, and more.
It is laudable, therefore, that Kenya is being proactive in seeking to protect her interests. Of the East African nations, Kenya benefits the most and must therefore lobby to keep the window open, especially now when US focus is shifting away from international trade deals.
Essentially, with all these issues at stake, lobbying will play a crucial role in ensuring that the US authorities understand Kenya’s point of view, and thus safeguard the country’s interests.