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TRADE TIES

India angling to regain top trade partnership position with Kenya

In Summary

• In 2015, China overtook India as the leading net import market for Kenya on the strength of infrastructure materials for the Standard Gauge Railway.

Director of Asia and Australasia at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Christopher Chika, Principal Secretary State Department of Investment and Industry Betty Maina and India high Commissioner to Kenya Rahul Chhabra during the annual trade and investment promotion event in Nairobi on March 26,2019. Photo/Enos Teche.
Director of Asia and Australasia at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Christopher Chika, Principal Secretary State Department of Investment and Industry Betty Maina and India high Commissioner to Kenya Rahul Chhabra during the annual trade and investment promotion event in Nairobi on March 26,2019. Photo/Enos Teche.

India will invest in Kenya's agriculture and manufacturing sectors  in line with the government's Big Four Agenda.

Speaking at the India-Kenya Trade and Investment Forum held in Nairobi on Tuesday, the Indian High Commissioner Rahul Chhabra said his country is keen to reduce its trade gap with Kenya and regain its top trade partner position.

"My country is committed to jump-starting Kenya’s industrial development in partnership with keen focus on manufacturing, agribusiness and pharmaceuticals. Coincidentally, the three sectors covers most of Kenya’s big four social economic goals,’’ said Chhabra.

Kenya’s trade deficit, the gap between imports and exports — climbed to Sh1.145 trillion in 12 months through December 2018 from Sh1.13 trillion a year earlier.

In 2015, China overtook India as the leading net import market for Kenya on the strength of infrastructure materials for the Standard Gauge Railway.

Last year, China remained Kenya’s largest source of imports for machinery and transport equipment, accounting for Sh291.8 billion followed by India at Sh161.2 billion, Saudi Arabia (Sh138.4 billion) and the United Arab Emirates  (Sh126 billion).

Pakistan remained Kenya’s biggest export market,mainly for tea, coffee and flowers worth Sh50.2 billion followed by Uganda (Sh42.2 billion), the US (Sh39.5 billion), the Netherlands (Sh38.9 billion) and United Kingdom at Sh37 billion.

India continues to outperform China in terms of the number of jobs created by its foreign direct investment (FDI).

 World Bank rankings of FDI-to-job creation ratios place China fifth, while India tops the list for the number of jobs directly created by FDI. Other countries include Britain, USA, South Africa and Germany.

The Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry chairman Kiprono Kittony said Indian should take advantage of strong trade ties with Kenya to exploit untapped business opportunities in manufacturing, agribusiness, and health and housing sectors.

‘At least three Indian firms are set to launch in Kenya following our recent memorandum of understanding with Guajarati chamber. We welcome more investors from India, promising them skilled labour and conducive business environment,’’ Kittony said.

State Department of Investment and Industry PS Betty Maina assured investors of government’s support, saying plans are in works to further smoothen ease of doing business.

‘’Although our ease of doing business has improved to position 61 globally, we want to clear more blocks to create best environment for businesses coming to the country,’’ Maina said.