Exports of duty-free goods to the US under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) grew by 25 per cent last year, marking one of the biggest leaps in nine years, according to the latest figures by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

The goods, mainly textile products, increased from Sh33 bn in 2018 to Sh41.5 bn last year. Capital investment increased to 96.3 bn in 2018 from Sh95.3 bn in 2017 while direct employment in the sub-sector increased by 5.1 per cent to 46,248 persons in 2018.

“The value of the exports increased significantly by 25.8 per cent from Sh33.1 bn in 2017 to Sh41.6 bn in 2018,” says KNBS in a report. “Capital investment increased by 3.6 per cent to Sh16.5 bn in 2018. But AGOA exports accounted for 88 per cent of the total goods shipped to America.

AGOA allows Kenya to export selected goods at preferential terms to the US, exempting them from paying tax. The initiative, which was expected to end in 2015 after an initial deadline of September 2012, was extended by US lawmakers for 10 years. It allows Kenya to export more than 6,000 product lines but has been dominated by export of textile and apparel.