Kenya seeks to strengthen trade ties at China expo

Trade CS Rebecca Miano and PS Abubakar Hassan (left) are taken on a tour of an exhibition stand during the China expo. [Jenipher wachie, Standard]

Kenya's is targeting to increase its trade with China through the China-Africa Economic Trade Expo (CAETE) currently underway in Nairobi.

Trade Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano highlighted the historical and economic bonds between the two continents, emphasising the expo's potential to unlock Africa's potential through innovation and collaboration.

The expo serves as a platform for industry leaders to drive innovation, forge partnerships, and expand international trade.

During the exhibition's opening on Thursday, Ms Miano said this as a turning point for China-Africa cooperation, but stressed the importance of mutually beneficial partnerships that leverage each side's strengths.

This focus on mutual benefit seems to be paying off. Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Eric Ruto points to the recent success of Kenyan exports to China, totaling over 9.3 million RMB (Sh174 million) in just six months.

These exports span diverse sectors like leather goods, skincare, agricultural products such as avocado oil, coffee, tea, macadamia.

Kenyan companies are also poised to establish a presence in China's Hunan Free Trade Zone, while over six Chinese companies plan to set up shop in Kenya, focusing on manufacturing, agribusiness, and blockchain.

This expo strengthens a well-established trade relationship. For 14 years running, China has been Africa's biggest trading partner, attracting a significant portion of the continent's exports.

In 2022 alone, China-Africa trade in goods reached $282 billion, with a 10.9 per cent year-on-year increase.

China's imports of African agricultural products have seen impressive growth, averaging 11.4% annually in recent years.

Kenya has capitalised on this trend, exporting $269 million (Sh36 billion) worth of goods to China, including coffee, avocado, tea, macadamia nuts, flowers, and fruits.

On the other hand, China remains Kenya's top import source, accounting for 18 per cent of its total imports, with electronics, machinery, and textiles being the major categories.

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