China’s opening-up policy will boost Kenya’s exports to the Asian nation, a Chinese government official said on Tuesday.
Li Xuhang, Charge d’Affaires at the Chinese Embassy in Kenya told a press conference in Nairobi that Beijing’s ever growing consumer market will bring more export opportunities for Nairobi. “We will encourage more Kenyan enterprises to cooperate with their Chinese counterparts and obtain more funds, technologies, equipment and capacity from them, so as to increase added value and be more competitive in the Chinese market,” Li said during a workshop for media and think tanks on the progress of the Chinese-built Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
He noted that the Chinese market welcomes more exports of Kenyan products such as flowers, tea, coffee and avocado.
He added that the agreement on Sanitary and PhytoSanitary signed in 2018 between the two countries has opened a new gate for the healthy and balanced development of China-Kenya trade. He revealed that currently the annual bilateral trade value has reached 537 billion shillings (5.37 billion U.S. dollars) while China’s non-financial direct investment in Kenya amounted to about 520 million dollars in 2018, which was more than two times the amount during the previous year.
The Chinese official also noted that due to the strong bilateral ties, there were around 170 Kenyan students who obtained Chinese-funded scholarships for studying in China in 2018, and 686 government officials and professionals went to China for training programs during the same year. In the aviation sector, Li said that direct flights between China and Kenya have now increased to 10 per week, and the number of annual Chinese tourists visiting Kenya has reached 81,000. Lindsay Kiptiness, deputy director of Asia, Australasia and Pacific Islands at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kenya said the relationship between China and Kenya has moved to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.
Kiptiness noted that the Chinese-funded-and-built railway demonstrates the cordial relationship between Kenya and China, noting that Nairobi is keen to leverage on the Sino-Kenya relationship to boost its industrial sector. He said that since Kenya achieved independence in 1963, the country has been heavily reliant on selling unprocessed agricultural produce to the rest of the world.
“We want to use Chinese technology to add value to our raw materials so to increase employment opportunities and foreign exchange earnings,” he added. Kiptiness urged Chinese manufacturing companies that are relocating from China to consider moving to Kenya in order to produce for both domestic and international markets. Cavince Adhere, a Sino-Africa expert said that China has now emerged as one of the top trading partners of the African continent.
Adhere said that the African continent has benefited tremendously from infrastructure development funded and constructed by China. He urged Africa to develop policies that will ensure the continent can tap into the huge Chinese market through selling globally competitive products.