According to the United States Agency for International Development, East Africa’s exports reached about $1 billion between October 2017 and September 2018, a 17 per cent increase from the same period the previous year.
Apparel dominated the sales and represented 84.4 per cent of exports.
“To date, USAid Hub trade and investment support has contributed to $4.07 billion in Agoa exports from the region, with $491.5 million from Hub-supported firms,” the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub said.
The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) gives sub-Saharan Africa duty-free access to US markets for about 6,000 items.
The East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, which advises and trains firms by reducing the cost and risk of doing business through engaging governments with stakeholders, said that the firms they supported have increased competitiveness by gathering information on buyer needs, helping to get standards certification, and developing products tailored to consumer preferences.
In East Africa, Kenya remained the largest exporter under Agoa at $454.2 million in the period under review, representing an increase of 14 per cent from $399.7 million made in the year to September 2017.
Tanzania experienced a rise of seven per cent to $42.1 million, Uganda had a 49 per cent increase to $3.2 million, and Rwanda went up 49 per cent to $5.8 million.
Ethiopia had the largest increase in exports as the country’s total earnings rose by 62 per cent to $137.3 million in September 2018, from $84.5 million September 2017.
“If this growth continues, Ethiopia may quickly become the second or third largest exporter under Agoa in East Africa. Almost all other countries saw their exports grow with the exception of Mauritius and Burundi,” said the Hub.
Sales from Mauritius dropped by five per cent to $160.5 million in September 2018, from $168.6 million the same period the previous year.
The drop was a result of increased competition from Madagascar which regained its Agoa eligibility in 2014.
Madagascar’s exports to the US rose by 29 per cent to $181.3 million in the period under review.
Burundi which is not eligible to trade under Agoa and relies on exporting its goods and services under the Generalised System of Preferences saw its exports declined by 36 per cent to $1 million, from $1.7 million in the year to September 2017.