High Commissioner of Kenya Julius K. Bitok, while expressing worries over limited trade volume between Pakistan and Kenya, advised the business and industrial community of Karachi to seriously focus on diversifying their exports to Kenya in order to improve the meager trade volume between the two countries.
Exchanging views with KCCI Office Bearers during his visit to the Chamber, the Kenyan HC added that rice and tea were two main commodities which were traditionally being traded between the two countries but there were a host of many other Pakistani products which can not only be introduced in the Kenyan market but also to many other African across Africa via Kenya.
President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, Senior Vice President KCCI Asif Nisar, Vice President KCCI Muhammad Younus Soomro, Chairman Special Committee for My Karachi Exhibition Muhammad Idrees and KCCI Managing Committee members were present at the meeting.
Kenyan High Commissioner said that Kenya, being the member of Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA), can be used by Pakistani business community to access a huge population of more than 400 million people inhabiting in the COMESA region, which comprises of 20-member states.
Kenyan High Commissioner also underscored the need to promote tourism opportunities between the two countries and enhance linkages between Nairobi Chamber and Karachi Chamber which would bring the business communities of the two countries more close to each other and definitely yield positive results. “KCCI should hold business-to-business meetings with their counterparts in Nairobi Chamber either in Karachi or in Nairobi and we will fully facilitate such meetings”, he added.
He was of the view that Kenya, being an economically stable country, was a safe place for Pakistani investors as doing business in Kenya was much easier as compared to other African states. The World Bank has also issued a report recently in favor of Kenya which recognizes the country as the most improved country in terms of ease of doing business, he said, adding that the Kenyan government offers one-stop shop where investors can register their businesses without any hassle.
He also invited Karachi Chamber to participate in the forthcoming 3rd Africa Tea Convention & Exhibition scheduled to be organized on 11th and 12th May 2017 in Nairobi.
To a query, the Kenyan High Commissioner said that visas were being issued by the High Commission within three days whereas Pakistani business community can obtain visas by applying through the High Commission, seek visa on arrival facility or opt to apply online. Replying to another query regarding exorbitant duties, he advised the Karachi Chamber to submit their proposals about reduction in duty on rice being imported from Pakistan so that any reduction or removal could be taken into consideration by the concerned authorities in Kenya.
Earlier, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, while welcoming the Kenyan HC, said that Karachi, which is the economic and financial hub of Pakistan, offers profitable investment opportunities and added facilities for investment and joint ventures to Kenyan investors. He said that with improved law and order situation and upon completion of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Gwadar Port, this region is likely to attract substantial amount of foreign investment from different parts of the world whereas Kenya can also benefit from the situation by investing or undertaking joint ventures.
He was of the view that Pakistan and Kenya have been enjoying good relations since 1960s, when Pakistan expressed its support for Kenya in getting independence from the British rule. The bilateral trade relations between Pakistan and Kenya are based on mutual cooperation which is expanding with the passage of time. During Fiscal Year 2016, goods exported by Pakistan to Kenya fell by 12% to $252.27 million compared to $286.52 million in the corresponding period of last fiscal year. On the other hand, Pakistan’s import from Kenya increased by 40% to $389.01 million during FY16 as against imports of $277.90 million in FY15, he added.
He was of the view that there was a huge potential to enhance bilateral trade between Kenya and Pakistan. As Kenya is one of the largest country in East Africa, Pakistan can export pharmaceutical and surgical items, sport goods and farm machinery etc. Shamim Firpo underscored that the Karachi Chamber wants to promote business, mutual understanding and friendly relations between Pakistan and Kenya. We also want to promote Kenyan investment and partnerships in Pakistan and do everything for the development of Pakistan-Kenya business cooperation, he added.