Kenya ambassador calls for increasing bilateral trade to $1b
Prof. Julius Kibet Bitkok, High Commissioner of Kenya to Pakistan said on Monday that current volume of bilateral trade between Kenya and Pakistan was US$ 600 million while it could be taken to US$ 1 billion by the aggressive efforts of businessmen of both countries.
The ambassador stated this while addressing business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Commissioner Counselor of Kenya was also present at the occasion. Prof. Julius Kibet Bitkok said that Pakistani rice was meeting 70% market needs of Kenya while Kenyan tea was meeting 70% needs of Pakistani market. However, he said both countries should focus on diversification of bilateral trade.
He said Kenya was interested in many Pakistani products including pharmaceuticals, surgical instruments, farm machinery and sports goods. Similarly, he said that Kenya could export its leather products, flowers and many other goods to Pakistan. The High Commissioner said that Kenya was a gateway for Pakistan to reach East and Central African market of 150 million people.
He said Commerce Minister of Kenya would visit Pakistan in August this year to take part in Joint Ministerial Commission negotiations and asked the business community of Pakistan to prepare a draft of preferential trade agreement which could be discussed during the JMC.
About tariffs hike on Pakistani rice in Kenya, he said the decision was taken on the pressure of Eastern African block, however, he said this issue could be negotiated during the JMC to arrive at a favorable tariff for Pakistani rice.
He said ICCI should plan a trade mission for Kenya to explore potential areas of trade promotion and High Commission of Kenya would organize its meetings with relevant government officials and other stakeholders.
In his address of welcome, Atif Ikram Sheikh, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry urged for evolving a new improve bilateral trade.
He said many Pakistani products including fruits and vegetables, food products, surgical instruments, medicines, textiles, IT, engineering and sports goods, auto parts and construction material could meet the needs of Kenyan consumers at affordable cost.
He said Kenya should review its high tariffs on Pakistani rice. He said Kenya was a member of Eastern African Community (EAC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa region (COMESA).
Thus increased cooperation between two countries would open up new opportunities of promoting trade as Pakistan could get greater access to Africa through Kenya and Kenya could get easy access to South Asia and other regional markets through Pakistan.
He said Kenya should sign a preferential trade agreement with Pakistan leading to free trade agreement that would give significant boost to bilateral trade.