Traders display their wares during the 3rd Kenya Trade Week and Expo in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, July 15, 2019. (Xinhua/Charles Onyango)
INTERNATIONAL - Sales made by companies based in Kenya's export processing zones are expected to hit 90 billion Kenyan shillings (about 866 million U.S. dollars) in 2019, up from $770 million in 2018, a government official said on Monday. 

Benjamin Chesang, manager for research, planning and innovation at Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) told Xinhua in Nairobi that the increase is due to the expanded output volumes from existing firms. 

 "The key overseas market is the United States which offers preferential access to Kenyan goods under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) program," Chesang said. 

Chesang said that the zones are attractive to both foreign and local investments because of the tax holidays for corporations who set up there. He noted that another key market for the exports zones are the European Union especially for horticultural produce. 

 According to EPZA, more than 60,000 individuals are employed in the 135 manufacturing plants based in the zones. Chesang said that most of the raw materials especially for the textile firms are sourced from China, adding that Kenya is exploring new markets in Africa and as well as China. 

The east African nation introduced the export zones in 1990 in order to boost the country's foreign exchange earnings. 

XINHUA