By Mark Kapchanga
NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenyan exports to Europe and Northern America are likely to increase beginning next year following a trade partnership with Morocco.
Coffee, tea and horticulture players will be the biggest beneficiaries of this new development that was reached earlier in the week when more than 130 businessmen from the North African nation visited Nairobi.
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The agreement, which has been signed by Kenya could be ready by September once the Moroccan team append their signatures.
The move will see Kenyan exporters access the Morocco market without paying customs duty.
In addition, they will use Morocco as a base to sell their products to more than 27 European countries and Northern America. Kenyan Honorary Consul to Morocco Ali Bajaber says businesses will also ride on the privileges of trade pacts between Morocco and these regions to exports their goods.
“Apart from Kenya using Morocco as an economic platform for the European market, Morocco will also use Nairobi as a hub in penetrating key markets in East Africa. We will go on with this bilateral plan so as to ensure businesses exploit the huge opportunities in the market,” he said.
Mr Bajaber said the cooperation will see the country draw lessons on the success of tourism from Morocco.
“Morocco attracted more than 10 million tourists in 2010 as part of its grand plan to boost earnings from the sector. With our vast, eye-catching sites, Kenya can surpass the 10 million visitors mark,” he said.
Morocco’s tourism strategy, referred to as Vision 2010, began to unfold in 2008 with a new set of infrastructure improvements.
“Today, the country is witnessing unprecedented growth in its visitor numbers, with tourism demand increasing by six per cent since 2006. The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts the country’s tourism will continue growing at a rate of four per cent per year to 2017,” explained Bajaber.
Trade between the two countries has been on the rise since 1998 with Kenya selling goods worth Sh1.5 million. In the same year, it imported goods worth Sh13 million from Morocco.
In 2011, exports to Morocco appreciated drastically to Sh305 million while imports recorded a spike to Sh3.4 billion. However, trade between the two last year dropped as exports to Morocco hit Sh283 million, while imports were worth Sh312 million.
On Thursday, Mr Bajaber held talks with the Export Promotion Council and the Coffee Board of Kenya, where he called on local firms to exploit the huge opportunities that comes with the pact.