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November 15, 2018

Bribery choking Chinese trade in Kenya, embassy official says

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Kiprono Kittony during a media briefing on the China Africa Conference to be held in Nairobi / ENOS TECHE
Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Kiprono Kittony during a media briefing on the China Africa Conference to be held in Nairobi / ENOS TECHE

Chinese traders are now complaining rampant police bribery in the country is stemming their efforts to do business.

Chinese Embassy economic counsellor Guo CE said the practice will derail the efforts that the two countries are taking to raise quality and levels of trade.

"Chinese business goods get checked at the airport but on reaching the city, police demand for money from the traders. Many employees in my office have also raised the issue where police check passports and other documents with the intention of getting a bribe," Guo said.

China is extending its activities into the country with the backup of Kenya Private Sector Alliance, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and industry, Kenya Invest and manufacturing sector to build economic initiatives in the country despite consistent outcry on the imbalance of trade in favour of China. Imports account for over 22.6 per cent of total imports as at December 2017.

According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the value of imports from China in 2017 reached Sh390 billion, a 20 per cent jump from Sh337 Billion in 2016. This is against the Sh10 billion value of exports to China in 2016. Guo said the imbalance is due to market differences on technical sectors around agriculture equipments, machinery and telecommunications.

KNCCI chairman Kiprono Kittony called urged government to focus on import substitution strategies to deal with trade imbalances.

"China has been large on infrastructural development whose return is long-term. Focusing on growing Kenyan products to China's large market would be key factor," Kittony said.

The ministry of commerce of china and ministry of industry, trade and cooperatives have signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday that reached to a working mechanism framework to handle the majorly the bilateral trade challenges.

"We have transferred President Uhuru's concerns on trade imbalances to the capital and to the customs department in China on opening markets beyond coffee to beef and avocado," Guo said.

The community expects another MOU signed between Ministry of Agriculture and China customs department for surveillance, risk analysis, reporting and strategies to enforce quarantine measures.

"There is a great opportunities for the China and Kenya to benefit under the open policy and benefit domestically but when there right procedures to it," he added.

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