DIPLOMACY

Kenya, Indonesia bridge trade gap

In Summary

• Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau said an embassy has been opened and officers have been sent to the mission awaiting the appointment of an ambassador.

• Indonesia Ambassador Mohamad Hery Saripudin says his mission is fully committed to enhancing trade relations

Ambassador Mohamad Hery Saripudin, Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau and KNCCI director Omarsadik Dahiye
Ambassador Mohamad Hery Saripudin, Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau and KNCCI director Omarsadik Dahiye
Image: HANDOUT

With the opening of a Kenyan embassy in Jakarta, Kenya and Indonesia are seeking to enhance trade ties.

Speaking during the launch of Soko la Indonesia in Nairobi,  the country’s Ambassador Mohamad Hery Saripudin said his mission is fully committed to enhancing trade relations, and it is their daily routine to facilitate trade inquiries and connect parties from both sides.

“To further strengthen our economic ties, the Embassy has also been encouraging the Republic of Kenya's Government to establish the new Kenyan Embassy in Jakarta. We are pleased to note that the opening of the new Kenyan Embassy in Jakarta will soon materialize this year,” Ambassador Saripudin said.

The envoy noted that by establishing its embassy in Jakarta, Kenya will have access to the fourth most significant market globally of 270 million people and the ASEAN population of more than 660 million.

“In addition, an official Kenyan mission in Jakarta is vital to supply necessary information of cooperation opportunities that can be explored further, including and especially on trade," he said.

Furthermore, as part of the government's responsibility to provide enabling environment for trade, the Embassy has also initiated a discussion on establishing a PTA [Preferential Trade Arrangements]  between Kenya and Indonesia.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said an embassy has been opened and officers have been sent to the mission awaiting the appointment of an ambassador.

Indonesia opened its mission in 1982.

PS Kamau challenged Kenyans to pursue Indonesian markets due to their diversity, saying the distance between the two states should not stand in the way between Kenya and Indonesia trade relations.

“Soko la Indonesia is key and crucial for Kenya and II urge all Kenyans to take advantage. Look at the Indonesian market the way you see the European or Dubai’s market. This is an opportunity to exploit the market potential,’’ Kamau said.

Micael Mandu from the Department for Trade said bilateral trade has averaged at $474 million every year.

“In 2020, trade between Kenya and Indonesia stood at $596 million, with Kenya’s exports being at $8 million while imports from Indonesia were $588 million and therefore the balance of trade, which is heavily in favour of Indonesia, was valued at $580 million,” Mandu said.

He challenged the private sector in Nairobi to export more.

He said Indonesia is keen to sign a bilateral trade agreement with Kenya to grow trade between the two countries.

Kenya's main exports to Indonesia are tea, leather, metallic salts and peroxysalts, tobacco, vegetable textile fibres, essential oils, jute and other textile fibres, vegetables, fresh, chilled, frozen; coffee and coffee substitutes.

It imports vegetable fats (palm oil), paper and paperboard, animal or vegetable fats and oils; margarine, natural rubber electrical machinery, electrical and non-electrical equipment, glass and apparel and clothing accessories from Indonesia.

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) director  Omarsadik Dahiye said Kenya needs to expand products currently exported to the Indonesian market.

KNCCI signed an MoU with the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce in 2017 to promote trade and investment relations and exchange of information.

During the Soko la Indonesia launch, the embassy showcased some 2,000 samples of products sent from Indonesia.

Soko la Indonesia is a supermarket-style Indonesian products house where visitors can go to the embassy, find and interact physically with a comprehensive range of sample products, and connect with the producers to follow up directly.

The opening of Soko la Indonesia followed the launch of an exhibition dubbed the Hybrid Trade Showcase 2021 in September.

The initiative by the Indonesian Embassy and Kareem International, an Indonesian export aggregator company, aims at promoting Indonesian products to businesses in Kenya and other African countries.