President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged Latin American and Caribbean countries to invest in Kenya.
President Kenyatta said yesterday the changing global political and economic order such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as US President calls for countries to forge new trade partnerships.
In a speech read on his behalf by Principal Secretary for Trade Chris Kiptoo at the first Latin America Caribbean Africa Trade Summit (LAC AFRICA) in Nairobi, the President said trade volumes between Kenya and the two regions is worryingly low.
“Whereas we have been seeing the Chinese, Indians, Americans and Europeans up their investments in Kenya, and also trade with these countries grow, investments and trade from Latin America has remained stagnant. It is time we put this to an end,” he said.
About 30 companies from Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Argentina and Costa Rica are attending the summit.
SKEWED BALANCE OF TRADE
Among the companies that have shown direct interest in making investment is the country are Jamaican conglomerate, Roth Capital and Tomae, which invests in energy and new technologies that control pollution.
The company’s Chief Executive Delroy Howell said he will be making an announcement on an investment in the energy sector soon.
Argentinian mobile service provider, PayPhone has also shown interest in investing in the nascent mobile technology sector.
President Kenyatta noted that of all South American countries that trade with Kenya, only Colombia has a balance of trade deficit which is skewed in Kenya’s favour.
The deficit stands at $12 million (Sh1.2 billion) in favour of Kenya. In off-the-cuff remarks, Dr Kiptoo said last year, of the $6 billion (Sh600 billion) Kenyan exports, 70 per cent went to only 12 countries without a single Caribbean or Latin American country being a recipient.
Among the top trading partners were Uganda, Tanzania Germany and Britain.
The PS said Africa is rising and the Latin and Caribbean countries should take advantage of the prevailing conditions by using Kenya as a gateway to the continent.
“Africa is working on a Tripartite Free Trade Area, which will see regional blocs Comessa, EAC and SADC integrate to form a single market. The Free Trade Area has a combined population of 600 million people and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about $1 trillion (Sh103 trillion). Kenya will be your entry route to this market,” he said.
The PS noted that last year, trade between Africa and Latin America stood at $50 billion (Sh5 trillion) and its seems to have stagnated.
He said it is high time the hurdles between the two continents were removed.