Kenya’s apparel exports to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) duty-free trade agreement have risen 26% – marking one of the biggest leaps in nine years, according to local reports.
New data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics reveals articles of apparel and clothing exports jumped to KES41.5bn (US$405m) in 2018, up from KES33bn in 2017. Capital investment increased to KES96.3bn from KES95.3bn a year earlier, and direct employment in the subsector increased by 5.1% year-on-year.
Together with tea, horticulture, coffee and titanium ores and concentrates, apparel and clothing accounts to 62% of total export earnings for Kenya.
AGOA permits Kenya to export goods, predominantly apparel and textiles, to the US without paying duties. It was extended in 2015 for a further 10 years. 40 African countries are beneficiaries of AGOA – with 26 enjoying duty-free garment exports to the US. The trade agreement has provisions to protect workers’ rights including freedom of association and collective bargaining.
Last month textile, leather and garment unions in sub-Saharan Africa met in Kenya to discuss how workers’ rights can be protected using the AGOA.