Uhuru picks 5 envoys in China, India trade quest

Deputy President William Ruto (centre ) and Industrialization Cs Peter Munya during the launch of trade week at KICC on 31/7/18-[Photo:Beverlyne Musili,Standard]

Kenya has posted a team to safeguard its economic interests in China and India as it moves to boost exports to the lucrative markets.

Deputy President William Ruto said yesterday in Nairobi the country had appointed five ambassadors to the two Asian economies with the aim of growing its exports.  

Speaking at Trade Week 2018, the Deputy President said Kenya’s trade balance was highly skewed in favour of the two Asian giants.

He noted that while China and India contribute about 40 per cent of Kenya’s imports, combined exports to the two economies made up a measly four per cent of the country’s total exports. 

“That will have to change; we will have to turn it around. And that is why we are enhancing our diplomatic footprint to support our export strategy,” said Mr Ruto on a day that the Government also unveiled three export strategies. 

These are the integrated National Export Development Promotion Strategy, the Second National African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) Strategy and the Action Plan for 2018-2022 of the Made in Kenya Grand Vision.

The country wants to increase its volume of exports by re-examining its existing markets with a view to expanding them even as it looks farther for new markets. Kenya has traditionally exported its products to a few countries, mostly European and North American.

“Export performance has not been encouraging, a fact that is reflected in the narrowness of our exports overall,” said President Kenyatta in a speech read by Ruto at the event.

“In 2017, for example, five categories of products accounted for 56 per cent of all of Kenya’s exports and 13 countries bought 70 per cent of all that we have in exports.”

The products include tea, horticulture, textile, and coffee, which are mostly exported to the United Kingdom, the US, Uganda, Pakistan, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Germany, and Tanzania.

The export strategy that was unveiled identifies eight sectors with the potential to triple Kenya’s exports from eight per cent to 25 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2022. Some of these sectors include manufacturing, agriculture, livestock, fisheries, trade and services, and emerging sector such as oil and gas.

With the Second Agoa strategy, the country aims to increase the volume of exports to the US and widen their reach.

President Kenyatta also announced policy changes to enable the achievement of these goals.

“We have agreed to establish the export promotion sub-committee of Cabinet to spearhead the execution of this strategy to diversify and grow our exports,” he said.