The United States plans to extend the life of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) beyond the current deadline of 2008, a senior official revealed on Monday.

Head of economic department at the local embassy, Jay Dehmlow, said US Congress has already started work on the AGOA II - a new act which is expected to expand the range of products eligible for its benefits.

He added that the US government was looking at the possibility of sending a team of experts to Kenya next year to work with government officials on various issues touching on quality of exports to the US market, and that a Kenyan team would also attend a trade forum of US and Sub-Saharan countries on AGOA trade arrangement starting on October 29.

Dehmlow made his announcement during the opening of African Women Embracing AGOA conference in Nairobi. The three-day event is organised by the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK).

He described AGOA as one of the most vital pieces of legislation the US Congress had passed on Africa in almost three decades and asked Kenyan women to take advantage of the host of opportunities offered under it.

"Almost 70 per cent of apparel in Kenya is produced by women and AGOA trade arrangement is a real opportunity for them," he said

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