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Nairobi watching keenly as Trump’s Agoa hearings start

US President Donald Trump. FILE PHOTO | NMG
US President Donald Trump. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Washington is expected to start public hearings on the benefits of the duty-free window deal with Africa today, an event being followed keenly in Nairobi.

Trade principal secretary Chris Kiptoo says the country is following the developments where the Donald Trump administration starts reviewing the African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) that earns Kenya billions.

African countries have been gripped by anxiety following the election of Mr Trump last year. He announced he will review all the international trade deals.

“We are keenly monitoring the development in the US when it starts discussion on Agoa on January 23,” said Dr Kiptoo.

Mr Trump has openly declared that he will not support international trade deals including the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

Last year, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (Smart), an American trade body petitioned US trade authorities to strike off Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania from selling duty-free textile and apparel exports in the US for rejecting second-hand imports from the country.

About 80 per cent of textile and apparel produced at the Export Promotion Zones (EPZs) are sold under Agoa— a trade pact, which allows US buyers to import goods from a number of sub-Saharan African countries without paying taxes.

Kenya, is however, yet to fully exploit its share of the US market under the Agoa plan as it currently exports 10 products out of a list of many issued by America.

Last year, the country used a paltry eight per cent of the allocated quota, earning $600 million (Sh50 billion).