Kenya, Russia Agree to form business council to enhance trade

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The Kenyan and Russian delegations on Thursday resolved to establish a Russia-Kenya business council to oversee the implementation of joint trade and investment programmes.

The delegations led by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and his Russian host Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the first Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi. During the bilateral talks, the two leaders underscored the need for the business council saying it will provide a framework within which Kenya and Russia will pursue partnerships in trade, investment and development.

The Heads of State said entrenching bilateral and multilateral partnerships would help their respective countries in achieving faster progress in trade and security.

“To enhance the shared development and modernization agenda of our two countries, I consider it important to deepen people-to-people contact and our cooperation in security and defence, trade and investment, tourism, energy, culture, science and technology,” President Kenyatta said.

The President said although Kenya is the second largest trading partner of Russia in Africa, the full potential of the economic cooperation remains untapped. He said there is need to identify ways of improving trade between the two countries, which currently is in favour of Russia, with a trade deficit of 2.3 billion US dollars. Russia mainly imports cut flowers, coffee, tea, fruits and vegetables from Kenya while cereals, iron and steel, fertilizers and paper, are the top Russian imports into the Kenyan market.

President Kenyatta invited Russians to invest in Kenya’s Big 4 Agenda priority areas of manufacturing, affordable housing, universal health and manufacturing saying direct investments would help “enhance economic cooperation”. He singled out construction of affordable houses, tourist charter flight services and space technology as some of the opportunities available to Russian investors.

On his part, President Putin recalled the historic friendly ties that exist between Kenya and Russia saying the two nations share similar values and that Russia was among the first nations to establish diplomatic relations with Kenya.

To bridge the trade imbalance that exists between Nairobi and Moscow, President Putin said the two nations need to prioritise cooperation in trade and investment. “Last year it grew only a little, but it was still 1.2 percent growth. We are glad that several Russian companies have gained a foothold in the Kenyan market,” President Putin said as he encouraged more Russian private sector actors to invest in Kenya.

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