Kenya, South Africa officials to meet to remove trade barriers

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trade protectionism

Kenyan and South African officials plan to meet to remove trade barriers between the two countries, a South African diplomat said on Monday.

South African High Commissioner to Kenya Koleka Mqulwana told a trade forum in Nairobi that the meeting between the ministers in charge of trade of the two respective countries will take place on Aug. 27-29 in Kenya.

“The Sixth Session of the Joint Trade Committee will develop a detailed roadmap to reduce trade barriers in order to tap the immense potential so as to expand both in value and volume terms, of the the scale of the two countries commercial relations,” Mqulwana said during the South Africa-Kenya Business and Investment Seminar.

A South African delegation comprising government officials, business people and industry associations are currently in Kenya to search for business opportunities.

South African companies operating in Kenya are in the banking, insurance, accountancy, pharmaceuticals, retail, tourism and engineering sectors.

Mqulwana noted that South Africa is currently the fifth largest source of foreign direct investment in Kenya.

In the African continent, Mqulwana said, Kenya is ranked tenth as an export destination for South Africa’s goods and 22nd most important import source from Africa.

Mqulwana said the South African government has formed Trade Invest Africa that coordinates and implements South Africa’s economic strategy for Africa, premised on the development integration approach.

She said the initiative will focus on advancing the priorities for Africa set out in Industrial Policy Action Plan and the national export strategy uncovered through continental trade regulations.

“This demonstrates South Africa’s new approach to continental development which embraces an investment-led strategy anchored on the pillars of market integration, industrial development and infrastructure expansion on the Africa continent,” she noted.

Njabulo Mbewe, economic counselor at the South Africa High Commission in Kenya, said trade between the two countries has grown steadily in the last 20 years.

Since 2007, South Africa has always maintained a trade surplus with Kenya although in recent years, the gap has been reducing and the wish of the South African government is that it reduces even further, Mbewe said.

Key South African exports included wines and other alcoholic drinks, cars as well as spare parts, oil lubricants and machinery.

Mbewe noted that South Africa plans to lead an outward trade and investment mission to Kenya by the end of 2018 as part of plans to reduce trade imbalance.

Moses Ikiaria, managing director of Kenya Investment Authority, said South Africa and Kenya are working hard to level the balance of trade by enhancing bilateral relations. Enditem

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