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Kenya, South Africa firms seek end of trade barriers

By Frankline Sunday | November 25th 2021


Uhuru greets South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa [Courtesy]

Business leaders in Kenya and South Africa are pushing for elimination of barriers that have stunted trade between the two economic powerhouses.    

This follows a forum by the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) and the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) on the sidelines of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s official visit to Pretoria.

Following the meeting, the chambers signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate the sharing of trade information, services and opportunities to reduce the balance of trade between the two countries.

KNCCI president Richard Ngatia said Kenya and South Africa’s hub-status in their respective regions strategically positions them to lay the ground for the continent’s economic transformation under the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“As the private sector, we are ready and willing to do business,” he said. “We only require an enabling environment to trade, under minimal costs and reduced barriers.”

Mr Ngatia and Black Business Council Chief Executive Kganki Matabane presented a raft of recommendations necessary to boost bilateral trade between Kenya and South Africa.

The proposed reforms include business-friendly regulatory policies, harmonisation of standards, reduction of tariffs and duties, infrastructure development, automation of clearance processes and free movement of labour.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicates Kenyan exports to South Africa stood at Sh3.4 billion last year, down from Sh3.3 billion in 2019 and Sh4.3 billion in 2018.

South African exports to Kenya, on the other hand, stood at Sh45.7 billion last year, down from Sh74 billion in 2019 and Sh64 billion the previous year.   

The one-day business forum brought together government and business leaders, industry regulators and associations.

Business Unity South Africa Chief Executive Cas Coovadia encouraged businesses to think beyond profits and engage in sustainable value chains. 

He invited Kenyans to invest in key sectors in South Africa such as mining and natural resources, financial services, ICT and agriculture.

President Kenyatta and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramophosa witnessed the signing of eight bilateral agreements across the transport, health, diplomatic consultations and training sectors.

Other MoUs signed cover tourism and migration, government printing works and service agreements in the aviation sector.

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