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AmCham Summit Discusses Future Of USA – East Africa Trade

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Summit
Summit

The fourth edition of the regional American Chamber of Commerce Kenya (AmCham) Business Summit, the premier platform for strengthening bilateral trade and investment between the United States, Kenya, and East Africa, has officially kicked off in Nairobi, Kenya, under the theme, ‘Catalyzing The Future of U.S.-East Africa Trade and Investment’.

Hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the two-day Summit has brought together delegates from the United States of America, East, and Sub-Saharan Africa in efforts to deliberate and discuss how trade and investment between the region, Africa, and the U.S. can be accelerated and support the growth of economies in all regions.

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Hon. Gina M. Raimondo, and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Investments, Trade, and Industry, Hon. Rebecca Miano, were the key guests at the opening ceremony. Among them included Ambassador Meg Whitman, United States Ambassador to Kenya, Luis Ortega, President, Coca-Cola Africa and Summit Diamond Sponsor, and Peter Ngahu, AmCham Board President.

In a keynote speech, Hon. Rebecca Miano, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Investments, Trade, and Industry welcomed the delegates to Nairobi, Kenya, while highlighting the Kenya and U.S. cordial relationship enjoyed over the last 60 years. She highlighted the recent United States-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) MoU signed between Kenya and the U.S. to address investment-related challenges and promote business opportunities emphasizing the importance of the partnership between Kenya and the US in areas such as infrastructure, health, renewable energy, and the digital economy.

She said, “This summit aims to provide opportunities for trade and investment by facilitating a forum to matchmake and create opportunities that initiate advance, and close deals. The Summit also resonates very well with Kenya’s government’s agenda, commonly known as the Bottom-Up Transformation Agenda, which aims to transform the economy and create a business-friendly environment at all levels.

Summit
Summit

Kenya and the U.S. have worked closely to address bottlenecks affecting American investors in Kenya in addition to convening quarterly U.S.-Kenya business dialogues. We have developed an operational strategy, a plan, and a budget to enable Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) to scale and deliver services to meet the objectives of the MoU to offer high-quality services that close investment opportunities at scale for both the private sector and the government’s trade between Kenya and the US.

As this summit gets underway today, we assure you and other prospective partners that the Government of Kenya recognizes the important role that such partnerships play in driving the economic growth and prosperity of the nations. We are working to have an efficient and streamlined service provision framework that facilitates business establishment and growth. We assure you that Kenya is ready, it is open for business, and it means business.”

On her part, Ambassador Meg Whitman, United States Ambassador to Kenya, highlighted the significant investment opportunities in Kenya, particularly around the creative industry and clean energy. She noted that Kenya has the potential to become the Singapore of Africa through vertical business integration, job creation, innovation, and foreign direct investment while still stressing the importance of reforms and partnerships to unlock Kenya’s economic potential.

She said, “I have been traveling around Kenya and the United States talking about how investments in Kenya have ultimately increased prosperity for citizens in both countries. Although more progress is needed, our economic partnership is strong and is growing. This year, we celebrate 60 years of U.S. and Kenya relations, as well as the historic upcoming State Visit of President Ruto in Washington DC in May. This is the first African heads of state visit since 2008.”

While highlighting some of the top opportunities for investments in Kenya, the Ambassador shared news that on the second day of the Summit, Kenya’s President Dr. William Ruto and U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Hon. Gina M. Raimondo will announce several new and promising deals that further underscore U.S. and Kenya economic ties.

She said, “I remain bullish on Kenya’s economic prospects. President Ruto and Secretary Raimondo will announce several deals that further underscore our economic ties. Investing in Kenya offers every business the opportunity to diversify their supply chain and not rely on a single-entry point or two.”

She added, “Following months of deliberations and consultations with the business community, Kenya is making real progress to improve the business climate. And this is what Kenya has accomplished since last year. First is the elimination of VAT on export services. Second, elimination of the domestic equity requirements for ICT companies. Third, removal of tax on stock-based compensation for employees of startups. And finally, Kenya has taken real steps to revitalize Kenya’s special economic zones to maximize their competitiveness.”

While highlighting the bottlenecks to investment and trade between the U.S. and Kenya, Ambassador Whitman said, “Kenya has done very well attracting venture capital to startups. But it continues to fall short of its full potential for promoting foreign direct investment in larger quantities beyond just startup capital. And in a world that is constantly moving faster, slow execution can be a major obstacle to attracting FDI and expanding business opportunities. This lack of execution speed could be addressed through the creation of a one-stop shop for walk businesses through the process of starting or growing a business from start to finish. Despite the challenges, there are exciting opportunities to be seized and waiting to be captured. So how do I feel about Africa and Kenya and United States business relationship? I feel good.”

Peter Ngahu, AmCham Board President, highlighted the importance of the Summit in his opening remarks. He said, “The AmCham Business Summit serves as a vital platform for fostering mutually beneficial trade and investment relationships between the U.S., Kenya, and the broader East Africa region. In the last year following the 2023 AmCham Business Summit, remarkable strides have been made, underscoring the tangible impact of our collective efforts. The culmination of these efforts resulted in 15 significant investment announcements from the U.S. private sector, amounting to a staggering $724 million.

These investments span various sectors, signaling a vote of confidence in the region’s economic potential and laying a solid foundation for sustained growth and prosperity. It is our hope that the engagements over these two days will bring us closer to realizing greater outcomes, both as nations and individually as businesses.”

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