The USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub) boosts trade and investment with - and within - East Africa. It does this by promoting two-way trade with the United States (U.S.) under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), facilitating investment, deepening regional integration and increasing the competitiveness of select agricultural value chains. The Hub is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Read more under our ABOUT tab and please subscribe to our newsletter by clicking below.Subscribe to our newsletter
October 18, 2018
On October 16, the USAID Hub sponsored the U.S-Africa Trade Promotion Event organized by the Export Promotion Council in Nairobi to mark the launch of direct flights between Nairobi and New York and raise awareness of business opportunities in the U.S. for Kenyan exporters that will result from improvements in trade logistics.
“We are committed to grow our investments and trade between Kenya and the USA. The Kenya Airways direct flight is one such example. Kenyan businesses need to innovate and dare to be great,” said U.S Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec.
The direct flights will enable greater exchanges between Kenya and U.S. by removing two barriers that have hindered Kenya’s competitiveness in the U.S. market: high cargo freight costs and extended delivery times. This will facilitate trade and investment and bring people, businesses and governments closer together for deeper relations and shared benefits.
In 2017, Kenya and the U.S. traded over $1 billion in goods, making Kenya the largest U.S. trading partner in East Africa. The top U.S. imports were woven apparel and knit apparel, both of which gained significant competitive advantages through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). In fact, over 70 percent of Kenyan exports to the U.S. entered under AGOA. The direct flights are expected to create opportunities for several sectors, including those highlighted in Kenya’s National AGOA Strategy and Action Plan, 2018-2023, which aims to double the value of Kenyan exports to the U.S. by 2023.
“We need to realize that we have a huge market opportunity in the USA. Let’s work to meet the requirements of this market. Knowledge and compliance are paramount,” said Export Promotion Council Chairman, Jas Bedi.
The USAID Hub supports Kenyan firms to access the U.S. market, especially though AGOA. The Hub provides firm-level technical assistance to help firms meet U.S. market requirements, such as Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification, and facilitates linkages with U.S. businesses through trade shows and buyer missions. The Hub also produced an AGOA 101 Guide that provides a step-by-step process on how to leverage AGOA’s duty-free access to the U.S.
“The U.S. market and AGOA provide good opportunities to attract investors to strengthen market linkages, transfer technology and provide capital and know-how to Kenya,” said Kenya Private Sector Alliance Chief Executive Officer Carole Kariuki.October 18, 2018
USAID Hub Livestock Trade Facilitation Brief outlines how the Hub is partnering with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and collaborating with Partnership for Resilience and Economic Growth (PREG) partners to hold livestock trade facilitation (business-to-business) forums in five Kenyan counties to promote more efficient trade between livestock buyers and sellers. The forums provide an accessible platform for producers and traders who source livestock from various counties and regional countries, such as Ethiopia, Somalia and Uganda, to exchange market information and make business connections that will facilitate trade.October 18, 2018
Small-scale women cross-border traders at the Rusumo border of Rwanda and Tanzania were excited to participate in a grain trade facilitation forum on October 10. By close of business, participating grain buyers and sellers signed agreements for a total of 662 metric tons (MT) at a value of $411,484. The USAID Hub, in partnership with the Agribusiness Focused Partnership Organization (AGRIFOP), organized the grain trading platform as a means to efficiently draw traders together from the two border regions and make market linkages. The B2Bs are designed to increase familiarization and spur new business relationships between women traders at the border which will in turn increase grain trade. This was the first in a series of business-to-business (B2B) activities with other facilitation forums scheduled for the Nemba border between Rwanda and Burundi and Kagitumba/Mirama border between Rwanda and Uganda.
“I am so happy to attend such a forum for the first time. I have finally met the millers who buy grain in this area face to face!” said Christina Radisausi, a cross-border grain trader in Rusumo, Tanzania.
In the last few months, the Hub concluded a two-month training program with partner AGRIFOP that aimed at building the capacity of rural cross-border traders, with an emphasis on female traders. A total of 112 women participated in the program, which strengthened their skills in enterprise management, structured trade, East African Community (EAC) grain standards, cross-border trade regulations, market information and access to finance. Improving traders' capacities and helping them embrace formal trade mechanisms reduces the transaction costs of staple foods trade in the region and supports more effective agricultural markets. The Hub’s support to cross-border trade efficiency contributes to economic growth and the attainment of the U.S. government's Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative, Feed the Future, objectives.October 18, 2018
In September and October, the Hub partnered with the Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC) to host regional meetings in Entebbe and Zanzibar to discuss harmonizing East African Standards (EASC/TC/014) for cereals and pulses. These meetings facilitated the review and revision of existing East African Community (EAC) standards for sorghum grains, finger millet, green grams, composite flour and soy flour by the EAC Secretariat and members of national technical committees. The meetings are the first activities under a Hub grant to EAGC which is also set to support the development of an EAC Guideline for sampling and testing aflatoxin levels. The adoption of the revised standards and guidelines are expected to reduce trade failures and ease the movement of grains from surplus to deficit regions in the EAC.
In 2016, the Hub partnered with the EAGC and the EAC Secretariat on the revision of the nine staple grain standards (wheat flour, maize flour, milled maize, dry beans, wheat grains, millet flour, sorghum flour, milled rice and dry soybean). This process was completed in December 2017 with the gazettement of the nine revised standards under EAC Legal Notice Number EAC/149/2017. Two sampling and testing standards and guidelines were also developed as part of the previous grant.
Despite attempts to improve the enabling environment for cross-border trade, challenges persist, making continued efforts to improve grain standards and food safety testing protocols necessary. One area ripe for improvement is the sampling and testing process for aflatoxin levels in staple grains. Inefficient aflatoxin testing delays border crossing times and leads to double testing and lack of transparency in the quality of produce being traded in the region. Harmonizing aflatoxin sampling and testing processes in the EAC will enable regulation of the levels of Aflatoxin in grain.
Harmonization of these East African Standards will increase the flow of quality grain commodities from surplus to deficit areas, eliminate unnecessary barriers to trade in the region and promote confidence among regional trading partners of the quality standards in staple foods.