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Kenya Settles Trade Arrangement for Better US Market Access

More than 2,000 Kenyan companies are set to expand their business opportunities into the U.S market with the signing of a partnership between the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) and Center of International Private Enterprise (CIPE).

The partnership was signed between Lars Benson, CIPE regional director for Africa, and Richard Ngatia, chairman of Nairobi Chamber, at ceremony in the capital of Nairobi. The memorandum of understanding involves the chambers of commerce in Kenya’s Vihiga, Mombasa and Nairobi counties, which will receive technical assistance and market linkages to open opportunities for businesses to access the American market.

“Kenya and the U.S. are very close allies economically, however inter-country trade has been more favorable to the U.S. since Kenyan markets do not understand the U.S. market,” Benson said. “This partnership is set to open opportunities for American-Kenya trade.”

He said CIPE will work with the county chambers to improve their governance, financial resources and service to members through training, technical assistance and small grants.

[Read more about Africa trade: The Battle for African Trade Pits US Against China]

Ngatia said the Nairobi chamber would capitalize on this partnership to foster its brand and enhance its service offering to its members.

The CIPE-KNCCI partnership is expected to support more county chambers in the 2019-2020 financial year.

According to the Office of United States Trade Representative, Kenya is the 85th largest goods trading partner with the U.S., with $1.5 billion worth of goods traded between the two countries in 2015. Kenya’s chief exports to the U.S. are woven and knit apparel, coffee, tea, edible fruits and macadamia nuts, totaling $565 million in 2015.

For the year through October 2017, the U.S. imported 93.71 million square meter equivalents in apparel and textiles, mostly man-made fiber and cotton apparel and products, from Kenya, which is eligible for trade preferences under the African Growth & Opportunity Act.

Kenya is part of the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. USTR’s Africa Office is also leading U.S. efforts to forge a new trade and investment partnership with the East African Community.