Nairobi — The government will prioritise value addition of local produce in order to move away from exportation of low value commodities to exportation of high value finished products.
Speaking at the National Exporters Forum in Nairobi on Friday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the value addition initiatives will diversify the export base and lead to increased production of goods and services that will be consumed locally, regionally and internationally.
"The initiative will arrest the widening trade deficit and alleviate the current unemployment situation afflicting the youth and women," he said.
Kenyatta noted that although Kenya has been registering a steady growth of exports over the years, the gains have been eroded by an upsurge in imports that outweigh the exports.
"The country's exports grew from Sh275 billion in 2007 to Sh518 billion in 2012, while imports increased from Sh605 billion to Sh1.4 trillion during the same period, and a large portion of imports are consumer goods with little contribution to value creation and sustainable development," he noted.
He stated that the widening trade deficit will be reversed through improved export performance and encouraging increased consumption of Kenyan goods.
The President said development of a framework to nurture and commercialise inventions, innovations and end-products at the national and county levels has been stepped up.
"Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs) are being strengthened to become key industries by improving their productivity and innovation," he said.
He said an Export Development Fund will be established to provide seed capital, adding that Credit Guarantee Schemes will be created to help reduce the high cost of credit to the business community.
"An endowment fund for sustainable funding of export promotion activities by the Export Promotion Council will also be established," he stated.
He underscored the importance of the export trade as a key sector of the country's economy, saying it supports balance of payments, servicing of external debt, stable currency and sustenance of adequate foreign reserves.
"In addition, export trade contributes significantly to employment and wealth creation. Indeed, the sector is a key driver of our economy and is expected to complement the efforts of the government in achieving the projected 10 percent annual economic growth rate as set out in Vision 2030," the president said.
He said the Government is also engaging with regional trading partners in order to minimise the barriers that exporters face in their markets.
"The establishment of international distribution infrastructure including warehouses and business information centers in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Juba in South Sudan are also underway," he revealed.
He added that the government is simplifying the business regime in the country to make it friendlier for improved transit across borders by increasing single border posts with its counterparts in East Africa.