East African exports to U.S. under AGOA on the rise

East African countries supported by the USAID Hub reached nearly $1 billion in exports to the U.S. under AGOA between October 2017 and September 2018. This was a 17 percent rise over figures from the previous year, and a 42 percent increase since the USAID Hub began. 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 USAID Hub-supported firms.

AGOA/GSP exports by country and USAID Hub fiscal year

Kenya remained the largest exporter in eastern Africa with a total of $454 million. Ethiopia experienced the largest increase in AGOA exports; the country’s total jumped 62 percent in one year. 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 exceptions of Mauritius and Burundi. Mauritius has witnessed increased competition since Madagascar regained its AGOA eligibility. Burundi, while not AGOA-eligible, saw its exports under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) drop.

Apparel continues to dominate East African exports across countries. It accounted for 84.4 percent of all AGOA exports between October 2017 and September 2018.

East African countries have made sustained efforts to take advantage of their AGOA eligibility in recent years. Rwanda, Uganda, Madagascar, Tanzania and Kenya all developed national AGOA strategies that outline targeted support for critical sectors and product categories to maximize the countries’ utilization of its duty-free benefits. Ethiopia is in the process of updating its national strategy as well.

Firms, with the Hub’s support, have also made strides in increasing their competitiveness so that they can better compete internationally. Whether gathering information about U.S. buyer needs at trade shows, acquiring international standards certifications or developing products tailored to U.S. consumer preferences, firms are enhancing their knowledge of and ability to navigate the U.S. market.

Through these efforts supported by the USAID Hub, East African countries have set record-high totals of AGOA exports. To build on this trend, read the AGOA 101 guide to learn about how businesses can begin exporting under AGOA.

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