A meeting bringing together Kenyan business people and close to 60 representatives of Israeli companies in Nairobi has signalled a potential step towards correcting the trade imbalance between the two countries. Kenya’s exports to Israel in the last five years recorded a $11.3 million (994 million) increase from $12.9 million (Sh1.13 billion) in 2007 to $24.2 million (Sh2.2 billion) in 2012. But despite this increase, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade says Kenya still imports more from Israel hence the balance of trade is tilted in favour of her trading partner.
“Imports from Israel have increased from $51.6 million (Sh4.5 billion) to $85 million (Sh7.5 billion) in the same period. Bilateral relations are often measured by the growth of trade between the two countries but as demonstrated here, the balance of trade is clearly in favour of Israel,” said Cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed while opening the business forum yesterday.
Yesterday’s meeting between Kenyan and Israeli business people was the second, with the first held in 2009. Kenya exports fish, coffee, flowers, paper and wood products, precious stones and metals, while imports from Israel include transport and telecommunication equipment, machinery, rubber, plastics and chemical products. The Kenya-Israel Business Forum heard that about 50 companies in Kenya are owned by Israelis or represent Israeli firms.
“A number of these firms export their products to Israel as well as to other countries,” said Mohamed. The two business groups agreed there remains huge unexploited potential for increasing trade between the two countries. Subsequently, the CS appealed to the Israeli business community to consider increasing commercial interactions with Kenya to tap into other exportable products among them tea and nuts which are renowned for high quality.
“I encourage you to consider buying directly from Kenya instead of importing Kenyan products from third countries,” she said, adding that this would guarantee the quality and authenticity of the products. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Liberman, said the meeting was significant for the enhancement of the two countries’ bilateral relations. “We came to talk business, therefore we have to be short and clear. Meaningful bilateral relations and growth of economy are informed by sincere and credible friendship,” said Liberman.
Source: The People
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