Nut exporters to the US were not immediately responsive to the passage of AGOA, remaining at historic export levels until 2002/3. 2003 saw an increase, with a 3-4 year surge in exports. However this pales in comparison to a recent surge, where the value of nut exports to the US overtook tea in 2010 and rivaled coffee in 2011.
This increase has been in part fueled by
lower harvests in Australia, a major macadamia nut exporter, which led to both
more demand from Kenya and higher overall prices (pushing up value).
However, a major factor behind the
spectacular increase has been a ban by the Government of Kenya on the export of
raw, in-shell nuts. This has diverted exports from processing buyers, namely
Hong Kong, China and India, to local processors.
Like textiles and apparel, though to a
lesser extent, the success of the sector is based on policy-level and not
firm-level advantages over competitors. Minus the government ban, local supply
may dramatically revert to other countries for processing and re-export to the
US and other countries.