Kenya eyes deeper trade ties with South America

Columbia Vice President Fransia Marquez with Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Richard Ngatia at the opening of the World Chambers Federation Annual General Meeting in Bogota, Colombia. [Courtesy]

Kenya and South American nations are pushing for deeper trade ties with participants at the ongoing International Chambers Conference pursuing areas of partnership.

This is as Colombia's Vice President Francia Marquez called for direct flights between his country and Kenya.

The blending of Kenyan and Colombian tea and Coffee to develop a superior hybrid for the Caribean market was also among the discussions.

"We have a lot to share in common and our trade can be enhanced by opening direct flights between Bogota and Colombia," said Ms Marquez.

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) President Richard Ngatia, held talks with Ms Marquez when he attended the conference as a general council member of the World Chambers Federation (WCF).

According to Mr Ngatia, the prospects that can come with direct flights between the two capitals will not only boost trade between the two countries but also touch the Caribbean and South American nations.

"With a growing economy, a young workforce that is tech-savvy and a supportive government, Kenya is an attractive investment destination," he said.

The meeting also discussed manufacturing in Special Economic Zones (SEZs)for food production as well as textiles.

They also discussed sustainability in business and climate action including a unified international custom document for the 13th World Commerce and Contracting (WCC) summit to be held from June 21-23 in Geneva.

"One of the WCF General Council meeting sessions focused on providing the right tools for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to become game changers," said Mr Ngatia.

Data shows that Kenyan exports to Colombia in 2021 amounted to Sh150 million with Coffee, tea and spices leading while live trees, plants, bulbs, roots and cut flowers follow.

Colombia says it will prioritise the diversification of its exports to reduce its dependence on oil, gas and mining and combat its high trade deficit.

Colombia's oil and gas industry was battered by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, before suffering further declines amid weeks of unrest caused by anti-government protests in the middle of 2021.

Colombias economy is highly dependent on exports of commodities. Oil and coal exports account for 59 per cent of total shipments and gold for 5 per cent.

Yet, in recent years, other products such as chemicals, machinery and cut flowers have been gaining importance.

Colombia's main export partners include the United States, China, Spain and Venezuela.

The South American nation's top exports include crude petroleum, coal briquettes, coffee, and refined petroleum respectively.

Colombia's top imports are broadcasting equipment, refined petroleum, cars, packaged medicaments, and corn, imported mostly from the US, China, Mexico, Brazil, and Germany.

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