Uhuru and Xi seal deals, as Kenya's avocados to hit Chinese market

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday held bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, aimed at enhancing trade ties amidst concerns over Kenya's huge growing debt.

The meeting, held at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China, saw the two leaders agree on a deal that will see Kenyan farmers export their popular hass avocados to China. It is projected that the Chinese market will absorb more than 40 per cent of Kenya’s avocado produce at its peak.

Delegations in talks

The two leaders led their respective delegations in talks at a time Kenya wants the trade imbalance between her and China, presently at 2.5 per cent against 97.5 per cent, corrected.

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Meeting on the sidelines of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, an Infrastructure International Conference currently underway in Beijing, the leaders witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation documents to further strengthen the countries' relations.

The trade disparity between the two nations has existed for years.

During the meeting, President Xi stated that his administration appreciated Uhuru's support despite condemnation regarding the imbalance on China-Kenya and China-Africa cooperation.

“China is willing to work with Kenya to maintain the good momentum of cooperation in various areas as well as between China and Africa by jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and by implementing the outcomes achieved at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation,” he said.

In Kenya, Chinese companies continue to invest in the areas of locomotives, construction equipment and electronic gadgets among others, while local export to China remains low.

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According to Xi, efforts will be made to strengthen connectivity of their development strategies, leverage the economic and social benefits of major projects such as railways, and encourage more Chinese enterprises to invest in Kenya.

Uhuru commended the achievements the Chinese government had made since its founding 70 years ago, with more than 700 million people lifted out of poverty.

He said the BRI enables different countries to build closer trade connections and partnerships, earning wide recognition from the international community and driving connectivity and industrialisation for African countries.

Deepen cooperation

“Kenya is willing to deepen cooperation with China on fields such as infrastructure development to promote the initiative further to the central and western African regions,” he said.

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The meeting took place at a time the President is seeking a Sh362 billion ($3.59 billion) loan and grant for the third phase of the Standard Gauge Railway from Naivasha to Kisumu, among other projects.

Kenya will be the first African nation to export avocado to the Asian nation, with a market of more than 1.4 billion consumers.

Uhuru also met Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund Managing Director.

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President Uhuru KenyattaXi JinpingKenya-China trade relationsAvocado farmers