On 30thMay 2018 the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Kenya hosted the first ever “Doing Business with USA Forum” at the Movenpick Hotel, Nairobi in an event graced by the US ambassador to Kenya Amb. Robert F. Godec as the Chief guest.
The half day symposium was attended by various stakeholders including the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vice Chairman Mr. James Mureu, representatives from USAID East Africa and Investment Hub, Department of International trade, Kenya Airways, Foreign Agricultural Aid, USAID among others.
The forum also provided local and international businesses with practical information on how to capitalize on commercial opportunities and increase trade and investment between the United States and Kenya.
In his opening remarks Amb. Godec thanked the American Chamber for its leadership in organizing the forum, adding that Amcham will be hosting the inaugural AmCham Economic Summit,a U.S. – Kenya economic and commercial event themed ‘The Big 4 – Market-Driven Economic Transformation’ in June this year led by U.S Secretary of Trade Wilbur Ross.
“Secretary Ross will lead a delegation of 75 representatives from the U.S. government and private sector to usher in a new era in U.S.-Kenya commercial relations.The centerpiece of the visit will be the Summit, which will bring together the governments and the private sectors of our two countries to see how we can partner to take our trade and investment relations to the next level”. He added.
Shedding more light to the upcoming summit, Amb. Godec said that the summit aims to create a collaborative platform that brings together American businesses, investors, government and other stakeholders to discuss joint aspirations, challenges and propose practical solutions through which American businesses can catalyze and support the realization of Kenya’s BIG FOUR economic agenda.
The conference is expected to realize a set of recommendations and commitments from both government and American businesses to fast track Kenya’s agenda towards achievement of the BIG FOUR. This will in consequence foster long-term strategic engagement between the Kenyan government and the American private sector and add the vital private sector input to future bilateral trade agreement deliberations.
“I can’t help but think we can do better on our trade and investment partnership. Last year, U.S.-Kenya bilateral merchandise trade was over $1 billion – and the United States imported over $100 million more in Kenyan goods than we exported to Kenya. This does not include trade in services as we don’t yet measure service trade. If we did, I bet the overall trade numbers could be much higher. There are hundreds of American companies present in Kenya, and the numbers are clearly climbing fast. Over my six years in Nairobi, I have seen unprecedented interest on the part of American companies – large, medium and small – in doing business in Kenya.” Said Amb. Godec.
Speaking at the same event KNCCI national vice chairman James Mureu, noted that Kenya is United States 4th largest trading partner in the Sub-Saharan Africa and majority of Kenya’s exports to US are duty free under AGOA.
“The Preferential Market Access granted to EAC through AGOA has played a critical role in spurring EAC exports with USA,” He added.
As a sign of improving trade relations, Kenya Airways said direct flights to between Nairobi and New York scheduled to start this October will allow for more exports between the two countries.The direct flights will also unlock new opportunities for tourism, trade, and investment.
To improve on infrastructure the Ambassador said that Bechtel’s contract will provide Kenya with a new, four-to-six-lane, gold-standard Mombasa-to-Nairobi highway that cuts travel time from 10 hours or longer to four hours to speed up East African trade. Another major project that will have lasting effects is the General Electric and OPIC participation in the Kipeto Wind Power project.
“U.S. tech firms will continue to locate here in Africa’s Silicon Savannah. Innovative companies such as Andela, Twiga, and M-Kopa are at the forefront of transformational change in Kenya, deploying technology and practices that will be modelled around the world. Google Loon plans to provide Kenya with innovative new leap-frogging technology; a balloon-based, mobile internet service with the power to bring connectivity and mobile commerce to previously unreached corners of Kenya.”