22 January 2013

East Africa: Kenya, Malawi to Foster Ties

Nairobi — Kenya and Malawi are headed for closer trade ties following a raft of agreements signed between President Mwai Kibaki and his Malawian counterpart, Joyce Banda.

The main areas of cooperation will be in enhancing agricultural production, value addition and creation of ready market for the produce. Malawi is one of the countries in Africa that have successfully adopted modern farming methods to increase production.

Kibaki who was on a three day state visit to Malawi last week pointed out a number of key learnings that Kenyan farmers can emulate from Malawi to boost production. Kenya is currently still a food deficit country.

Kibaki, at the same time, called on private sectors in the two countries to expand their activities and diversify the range of products and services to benefit from bilateral trade.

"Malawi is a major learning point for Kenya. It is a living example that Africa can become food reliant. But this is only if our farmers are ready for the transformation from subsistence age-old methods to modern large scale production," said President Kibaki.

Apart from agriculture, the two presidents were in agreement that there were several opportunities for cooperation in regards to trade, aimed at enhancing relations between the two Africa countries.

"We are confident that improved trade relations will sure better the living standards of our people. Only this way will Africa develop. We need to trade more closely across our borders," said President Banda.

Both Kenya and Malawi are members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. Kibaki said the two countries had agreed to work on eliminating Non-Tariff barriers in efforts to boost trade.

"It is my hope that the government and private sector in Malawi will partner more closely with their Kenyan counterparts in order to achieve the common goal of improved socio-economic development," said Kibaki.

In working towards elimination of NTBs, Kibaki said his government is committed to creating a one-stop border clearance point which will save both time and money. He said the Kenyan government is also working towards increasing cargo capacity at the port of Mombasa to boost trade.

Kibaki challenged Malawian govt to invest in infrastructure, to enable products reach the market and trade will be improved in COMESA region.

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