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WASHINGTON – The American Apparel & Footwear Association has signed a memorandum of understanding in cooperation with the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) with a view to expanding the garment export trade of Kenya into the US. Just under a third of all garment exports from the Sub-Sahara region to the US are from Kenya, which has become a popular destination for US brands looking at African sourcing options; many see it as a safer, more logistically sensible bet than Ethiopia. The latest figures available show it exported US$320m worth of garments to the US in the year to October 2020.

The export values of Kenya accommodated 31.90 per cent of total US imports from KAM represents more than 1,300 members across 14 industries, including Kenya’s Textiles & Apparel and Leather sector, and the Footwear & Leather Goods sector.

The MOU was signed by AAFA President and CEO Steve Lamar and KAM chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga during a ceremony.

Negotiations to form a Free Trade Agreement between the US and Kenya were launched in July 2020, while the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) currently promotes trade between the US and Kenya. With AGOA scheduled to expire in 2025, AAFA and KAM have agreed to collaborate on the programs 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,” said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association.

“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.”

“We are excited to sign this partnership MOU with AAFA. The United States of America market is the most important export market for Kenyan apparel. This partnership will scale up business to business linkages between KAM and AAFA members; and we hope that this will translate to increased trade and investments across our borders. Kenya’s apparels manufacturing capacity has grown over the past 21 years of AGOA with the country becoming the largest apparels exporter under the program. With a focus on renewed trade arrangements with the US and maximization of AGOA, this partnership with AAFA will be critical in ensuring that the private sector provides fact-based policy advocacy,” said Ms. Phyllis Wakiaga, KAM chief executive. 

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