20 May 2019

Kenya: Govt to Market Produce At Beijing Expo to Promote More Trade

Kenya is marketing its produce at the ongoing 2019 Beijing International Horticultural Expo seeking to penetrate the Chinese market and promote a balance in trade between the two countries, Kenya's Ambassador to China Sarah Serem has said.

There is currently an imbalance in trade favouring China.

"We will also use the Expo to showcase other opportunities in Kenya such as tourism," she told The EastAfrican on Sunday on the sidelines of the Second Western China International Fair for Investment and Trade in Chongqing City.

Ms Serem blamed the trade imbalance on the lack of awareness on what Kenya produces that can be exported to China.

When Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta was in Shanghai in November last year, he said China is Kenya's biggest trading partner with the country's exports to China amounting to $167 million, while imports were $3.78 billion, with China accounting for 17.2 percent of Kenya's trade with the world.

Though trade with African countries is still skewed in favour of China, the gap in most countries is not as big as it is in the case of Kenya. African countries in 2016 imported goods worth $88 billion and exported goods with a value of $39.9 billion.

The major African exporters to China who reduced the trade gap include Angola, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. They sell minerals and oil to China. Angola's exports reached $13.9 billion in 2016.

Major Chinese imports in Kenya include electronics, motorcycles, motor vehicles spare parts, furniture and clothes.

During the Second Belt and Road Forum held last month in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised that China would continue with its efforts to open up its economy and reduce market access restrictions on foreign investment.

More than 100 countries, including Kenya, are participating in the 2019 Beijing International Horticultural Expo which will run up to November this year. More than 16 million visitors are expected to attend.

There will also be direct flights from Hunan Province of China to Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) from June 11, 2019, according to deputy governor of Hunan Chen Fei.

"Kenya is a key trade partner with China as well as with our province and a member of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and for that purpose, we would like to continue cooperating in terms of business and tourism hence the maiden flight of China Southern Airlines to Nairobi," he said.

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