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S. Africa, Kenya commit to deepen relations

By Ndumiso Mlilo in Johannesburg, South Africa | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-11-25 20:07

South Africa and Kenya on Tuesday recommitted to strengthen their trade relations in various sectors and improve intra-Africa trade to build a better continent and world.

This follows the state visit by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to South Africa. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Kenyatta held high-level talks covering various areas such as immigration, tourism, trade and people-to-people exchanges.

"South Africa and Kenya share a long history of friendship, mutual respect, common values and solidarity. We are committed to exploring further measures to ease travel between our two countries as an important part of strengthening trade, investment, tourism and cultural ties," Ramaphosa said while briefing the media about Kenyatta's visit.

"We are therefore pleased to announce a task team at the level of the two presidents, President Kenyatta and myself, will be set up to improve ease of travel and address any visa-related challenges between our two countries."

Kenyatta stated he had a fruitful engagement with Ramaphosa. He pointed out colonial borders are stifling movement of goods and people thereby economic growth.

He said, "These borders were created by people from outside of the continent, who made these not to develop you, but to extract from you. Now that we want to develop ourselves, we must start looking at these borders. We must start removing barriers that have defined us in the past and now hinder us from becoming what we want to be. These borders were not made for us. If we are going to be manufacturing giants, we need to do away with these borders."

The government officials and private sector also discussed the opportunities in both countries and how to remove barriers to trade during a South Africa-Kenya trade and investment business forum on Tuesday.

Johnson Weru, principal secretary at the State Department of Trade in the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade, and Enterprise in Kenya, said Kenya is open for business. He stated trade between the two countries is skewed in favour of South Africa and that needs to be addressed. Weru pointed out they have identified 20 products which Kenya can export to South Africa including flowers, fish and avocado.

"We have business regulatory hurdles like sanitary issues which limit the number entry of some goods and services into this economy," he said. "We have an opportunity to solve them. We are committed to improve the trade, investment and tourism and improve the business climate. We are looking forward to doubling Africa's contribution to global trade."

Weru said both Kenya and South Africa and regional powers should increase trade to show the example of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. He emphasized both countries should prioritise each other when there is a need for business before looking to Europe.

Cas Coovadia, CEO of Business Unity South Africa, said both countries have an opportunity to cooperate on fintech, health, retail, clean energy and infrastructural development. He stated Kenya has a well-developed fintech and banking sector, saying both countries should leverage each other's strengths.

According to the South African government, total bilateral trade between two countries increased from $560 million in 2016 to $773 million in 2019. Trade fell to $513 million last year because of COVID-19.

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