Trade talks between Kenya, DRC and Morocco await top court verdict

Milimani court buildings on August 31, 2022 where the supreme court heard the presidential petition. [Samson Wire, Standard].

Trade talks between Mombasa businessmen and their counterparts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Morocco will resume after the Supreme Court verdict on the presidential election petitions today.

The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Mombasa Chapter Chairperson Ramadhan Mustafa said there are a lot of pending trade talks between the three countries.

He noted that investors from Kinshasa, DRC's capital, are looking forward to starting manufacturing goods in Mombasa in partnership with some Kenyan companies to serve the country's huge market of 20 million people. "Actualisations of memorandum of understandings (MOUs) have already been signed and we are waiting to get over the election process," said Mustafa. "We have seen a lot of interest from companies in DRC that want to set up base in Mombasa since they import 85 per cent of their consumable goods."

Mustafa said the uncertainty of the political situation was bad for business. "We hope for closure in this process, whichever way the Supreme Court sees it fit. Once we are past that ... life and business have to continue as people need to put food on the table," he said.

Mustafa was speaking during a meeting with Mombasa governor-elect, Abdulswamad Nassir, who requested to meet the business community to understand issues affecting them.

Mustafa said the manufactured goods will be transported to Kinsasha by sea because it is far cheaper than transporting them by trucks.

Comparative advantage

The Chair said there is a need for a conversation about the comparative advantage Mombasa has in the production of goods as the signatory of the East African Free Trade Movement (EAFT). "I would like to see manufacturing industries put up in Mombasa and production being done from the hinterland," said Mustafa.

Traders from the logistics, manufacturing, construction, shipping, and legal among other sectors met with the new county boss to discuss their issues and create a platform for future engagements.

Mr Mustafa welcomed the proposal by Nassir to have a single business permit across all the businesses in place of the many licenses that made business difficult in Mombasa.

He said talks are underway to have businesses pay in installments for the single business permit."

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