The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in cooperation on Monday with the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM).
Representing the apparel and footwear industry in the United States and Kenya, the groups have agreed to collaborate on policy areas that are of mutual interest to its membership through joint advocacy and information sharing on industry best practices. The MOU was signed by AAFA president and CEO Steve Lamar and KAM CEO Phyllis Wakiaga.
The United States and Kenya have recently expressed interest in expanding trade and investment between the countries. Negotiations to form a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and Kenya were launched in July 2020, while the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) currently promotes trade between the U.S. and Kenya. With AGOA scheduled to expire in 2025, AAFA and KAM have agreed to collaborate on the program’s renewal, while also supporting FTA negotiations.
“Kenya is a key partner for the apparel and footwear industry, and we are excited to formalize an agreement of cooperation with the Kenya Association of Manufacturers,” Lamar said. “This is a particularly important time for U.S.-Kenya relations, as we look to renew AGOA and agree to a free trade agreement that opens new markets and business opportunities. AAFA is eager to work more closely with KAM to ensure that both governments are aware of how the apparel and footwear supply chain works, and how future agreements can be structured to provide an economic boost to both industries.”
Wakiaga said the U.S. is the most important export market for Kenyan apparel and the new partnership will scale up business to business linkages between KAM and AAFA members. For the year to date through July, U.S. apparel imports from Kenya increased 15.86 percent compared to the same period in 2020 to 67.89 million square meter equivalents, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel.
“We hope that this will translate to increased trade and investments across our borders,” Wakiaga said. “Kenya’s apparel manufacturing capacity has grown over the past 21 years of AGOA, with the country becoming the largest apparel exporter under the program. With a focus on renewed trade arrangements with the U.S. and maximization of AGOA, this partnership with AAFA will be critical in ensuring that the private sector provides fact-based policy advocacy.”
AAFA represents more than 1,000 brands in the apparel and footwear space. Meanwhile, KAM represents more than 1,300 members across 14 industries, including Kenya’s textiles, apparel, footwear and leather goods sectors.