Port Louis — The Government of Mauritius has lifted a ban on several Kenyan farm produce as the two countries signed agreements to enhance trade between them.
The ban on avocadoes, baby carrots, baby beans and broccoli was lifted during bilateral talks between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his host Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth.
The move by Mauritius comes less than six months after the Chinese government opened its doors to the Kenya's fresh produce.
President Kenyatta said lifting of the ban by Mauritius will help improve Kenya's export to the Indian Ocean Island country and is a major boost for horticultural farmers in the country especially women who are the majority in the sector.
During the bilateral talks, President Kenyatta and PM Jugnauth witnessed the signing of several agreements including the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA); an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA); and an MoU on Cooperation for the Development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Export Processing Zone in Kenya.
Other agreements were an MoU in the field of tourism; an MoU in the field of Higher Education and Scientific Research and an MoU in the field of Arts and Culture.
President Kenyatta said Kenya is bound to benefit immensely from the signed agreements and MoU's as they would help the country achieve its development goals particularly in manufacturing and job creation.
"Both countries can benefit from the proximity of each other to foster closer cooperation across many areas. I welcome the conclusion and signing of agreements in six areas during this state visit," the President said.
He pointed out that more bilateral engagements between Kenya and Mauritius will enhance existing cordial relations thereby increasing trade and investment opportunities.
The President said, several opportunities exist in trade and investment, financial services, agriculture, transport and communication, and in culture, education, tourism and research.
He expressed gratitude that the inaugural Session of the Joint Commission for Cooperation, which was held in August 2018, has helped the two countries to deepen and enhance the scope of bilateral engagements.
President Kenyatta pointed out that Kenya and Mauritius are well placed to collaborate in championing the development of the blue economy since both countries are littoral states with long coastlines.
The Kenyan Head of State said there is need for the two countries to explore ways of enhancing cooperation in maritime transport by linking Port Louis to the Port of Mombasa as a catalyst for growing business and trade between Kenya and Mauritius.
"Kenya is making good progress in developing the Port of Lamu as part of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor project, I look forward to Mauritius sharing in the dividends that will accrue from the transport infrastructure once it is complete," President Kenyatta said.
He invited Mauritian investors to participate in the Special Economic Zones which the government has set up at the Port of Mombasa and within the Export Processing Zones.
The President said collaboration in this area will be enhanced through sharing of best practices and in the development of an integrated regional value chain in the textile sector.
President Kenyatta expressed gratitude on the signing of the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and called on the parties concerned to ensure the necessary mechanisms are put in place to facilitate implementation of the agreement.
The President called on the Mauritius government to partner with Kenya in combating transnational crimes which are a threat to peace and security in the Indian ocean.
"As chair of the Indian Ocean Commission, Mauritius can help steward the regional fight against piracy, money laundering, and drug trafficking, which are threatening peace and security in the Indian Ocean," said the President.
President Kenyatta said Kenya is committed to the realization of the goals of the African Union's Agenda 2063, saying he looks forward to working closely with Mauritius and other African nations to advance the ongoing reforms of the continental body, to make it more responsive to Africa's deepest concerns.
He further requested Mauritius to support Kenya's bid for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for the term 2021 to 2022 at the elections to be held this year.
"Kenya's desire to be a member of the Council emanates from a strong belief that our solid record of continued contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security stands us in good stead to shoulder this responsibility," President Kenyatta.
He said when elected, Kenya will strive to highlight common African Union positions and concerns within the security council, particularly as regards peace and security on the continent.
Prime Minister Jugnauth thanked President Kenyatta for the historic visit which makes him the first Kenyan President to visit Mauritius.
"The presence of President Kenyatta testifies not only the sterling relations that Mauritius and Kenya enjoy, but more importantly constitutes a statement that our two nations are irreversibly locked in a mutually beneficial partnership," said the Mauritius PM.
He said the six signed agreements are core instruments for the promotion of greater economic cooperation and protection of investments between the two countries.
The PM said the signing of the Agreement on Special Economic Zones will lead to the setting up of a conducive frame work towards developing centres of global competitive production in Kenya.
He said as an economic power house in the East African region, Kenya is one of the main trading partners of Mauritius adding that President Kenyatta's visit marks the beginning of a new era as the country prepares to start import Kenyan farm produce.
"Following our discussions Excellency, we are looking forward to see Kenyan avocadoes in our stalls," the Prime Minister said.