Kenyan exports to the Netherlands have more than doubled over the past 10 years to stand at Sh70 billion in 2022 as Nairobi diversifies products to key export markets.
According to Dutch Ambassador to Kenya Maarten Brouwer, his country is now the second-largest destination of Kenyan exports in the world and the largest in Europe with over €300 million (Sh47 billion) worth of flowers and €46.2 million (Sh7 billion) worth of avocados.
"These strong trade relations are the result of many years (almost 60) of cooperation and collaboration between Kenya and the Netherlands. In 2022, Ken Invest and the Netherlands Business Hub signed an MoU that offers a framework for fruitful collaboration on investment promotion and trade collaboration for Kenyan and Dutch businesses," said Brouwer.
Mr Brouwer spoke Thursday when he welcomed a delegation of 17 Dutch companies, which are on a trade mission to Kenya, targeting the logistics, port development and blue economy sectors.
He said Kenyan roses, avocados and mangos are now a common feature on the shelves of Dutch supermarkets, signalling the strong trade ties between the Netherlands and Kenya.
Kenyan exports to the Dutch market comprise mainly horticultural produce. The Netherlands is the largest buyer of Kenyan flowers, mainly for re-export to other markets.
Other key exports are food, live animals, coffee and Tea, fruits and vegetables, fish and tobacco.
The Netherlands, on the other hand, exports automatic data processing machines, clothing and clothing accessories, household items, linen and furnishings, chemicals, machinery and transport equipment, dairy produce, plastics and electronics to Kenya.
Mr Brouwer said that to streamline the movement of goods within the East African region, the Netherlands has supported TradeMark Africa to construct the Busia, Malaba and Moyale one-stop border posts.
He said Kenya is the sixth-largest avocado producer in the world yet, the Netherlands is the second-largest avocado exporter in the world without ever producing even a single avocado.
"This is because the logistics sector in the Netherlands is diverse and driven by innovation and digitalisation. Through its large infrastructure network by road, rail and water, the Netherlands has become an expert in multi-modal transport systems," said the envoy.
He said the logistical capacity in the Netherlands is largely driven by the private sector, facilitated by public investments, which Kenya could replicate because of its strategic position in the region.
"Kenya already serves as a gateway into Eastern Africa. Recent investments in the ICDs (inland container depots), SGR (Standard Gauge Railway) and Container Terminal 2 in the Port of Mombasa have helped solidify Kenya’s position. Nevertheless, sea freight is still an underserved logistical chain in Kenya, which holds huge potential," said Mr Brouwer.
He said the Netherlands plans to strengthen trade relations with Kenya by improving cool-chain logistics through sea freight.
"The need for a cool logistic corridor is clear. It will further support Kenya’s economic development and aligns well with the government of Kenya’s agenda to improve the logistics infrastructure and procedures internationally and in the region," said Mr Brouwer.
He said such a corridor would improve the shelf life of flowers and other agricultural products given that an efficiently operating cool logistics chain will lower transportation costs and the volumes of agricultural products can grow as capacity on sea freight is high.
"Most importantly, consumers in Europe are demanding sustainable transport of the goods they buy. Sea freight can reduce CO2 emissions on transport by up to 80 per cent," said the envoy.
Transport and Roads Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen said the trade mission centres around strengthening logistics systems to further solidify Kenya’s position as a gateway into Africa.
"The mission includes visits to key Kenyan infrastructure such as the Port of Mombasa and the Naivasha ICD," said Mr Murkomen.