Kenya-US direct flights, a win for exporters

Direct flights between Kenya and United States of America are likely to commence in November, an aspect that is expected to bridge the existing wide trade distance, reducing the cost of doing business between the two nations.

Speaking after the just concluded 39th Civil Aviation Assembly in Canada, James Macharia, the Cabinet secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban development revealed that all issues that were under discussion between Kenyan aviation authorities and their American counterparts is now done.

He added that US will be sending its audit team for final confirmation and sign off for the flights to begin by end of this month.

This is good news to exports in the country who are currently incurring high operational costs, which has forced many to look for alternative markets, hence a huge trade imbalance in favour of US.

The East Africa Logistics Performance Survey 2014 blamed delay in actualization of direct flights from Kenya to USA for the huge trade difference.

According to the report, it costs $1.75 per kg to ferry cargo to Europe from Kenya compared to $3 per kg in North America where USA is situated.

Imports from US costs $4 per Kg while whereas imports from EU cost $1.75 per kg.

The report blamed lack of meaningful economic air agreements between American continents with Africa for expensive trade off.

Last year for instance, USA exported goods worth $1640.7m to Kenya compared to imports of $590.7m, resulting into a trade difference of $1050.2m in favour of USA according to USA Census Bureau.

In 2013, the U.S. goods trade surplus with Kenya was $201 million after exporting goods worth $651 m against imports of $451 m according to a report by the Office of the USA Trade Representative.

Among goods exported to Kenya includes aircraft totalling to $217 m, machinery ($104 m), optic and medical instruments ($45 m), electrical machinery ($37 m), and Cereals worth $26 m.

Kenya on the other hand exported Knit Apparel worth $160 million, Woven Apparel with the value of $148 m, Spices, Coffee, and Tea coffee of about $39 m, edible fruit and macadamia nuts of $29 m and electrical machinery worth $22m.

A comparison of trade between Kenya and Netherlands or German clearly demonstrates how Kenya is competing fairly with countries it shares with direct flights

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