Kenya rolls up its sleeves as it tries to balance its trade books with South Africa

Regionally, South Africa is Kenya’s top seller and exported goods worth Sh42.7 billion ranging from wines to car parts to Kenya last year

Speaking on Thursday in Durban, South Africa ahead of President Kenyatta’s arrival, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said Kenya seeks to attract the country’s investors as part of the government’s strategy to generate wealth and create employment.

“Kenyan exports to South Africa face high tariffs and levies which inhibit access to the South African market by Kenyan investors,” said the minister in the statement from her ministry.

“Kenya’s main exports to South Africa which include tea, soda ash, cut flowers, avocado, detergents, processed cashew and macadamia nuts, among others, face tariffs and levies which make them uncompetitive compared to those from the South African Development Community (SADC) member countries.” She added.

Ms Amina disclosed that bilateral discussions between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma would focus on the removal of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, among other issues of strategic interest to both countries.

“Discussions towards elevating the Joint Commission for Cooperation between Kenya and South Africa to Special Status Agreement will be a key agenda of the visit to South Africa. The aim is to bolster trade relations through high level negotiations for the elimination of tariff and non-tariffs barriers between the two countries.”

Compared to Kenya which is still struggling to find its footing, South Africa has a ready and willing market in Kenya.

Regionally, South Africa is Kenya’s top seller and exported goods worth Sh42.7 billion ranging from wines to car parts to Kenya last year compared to  Kenya which exported  less than Sh5 billion in the same  period.

The Cabinet Secretary cited the recent entry into the Kenyan market by Volkswagen (South Africa) to establish a motor vehicle assembly plant as well as the decision by Development Bank of South Africa to invest in LAPSSET Corridor Projects, as indicators of deepening ties between Kenya and South Africa.

Kenya and South Africa, the minister said, have made good progress in streamlining key issues including visa requirements for Kenyan nationals travelling to South Africa.

“Key among these was the acceptance by South Africa to issue Visa on arrival for official delegations, and the issuance of a one-off Visa tenable for the duration of study in South Africa for Kenyan students,” she added.

Besides holding bilateral talks with his host in Durban, President Kenyatta will also attend the 106th Anniversary celebrations of the African National Congress (ANC) in the city of East London as special guest.

During the visit, the President is also expected to hold talks with deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, the newly-elected ANC leader.

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