Kenya’s High Commissioner Prof Julius Kibet Bitkok has said that the volume of bilateral trade between Kenya and Pakistan which is $600 million at present can be taken to $1 billion through aggressive efforts of businessmen of both countries.
He said Pakistani rice was meeting 70% needs of Kenya while Kenyan tea was meeting 70% needs of the 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 Kenya could export its leather products, flowers and many other goods to Pakistan. He said this while addressing business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI). The commissioner counselor of Kenya was also present on the occasion.
The high commissioner said that Kenya was a gateway for Pakistan to reach East and Central African market of 150 million people. He said the commerce minister of Kenya would visit Pakistan in August this year to take part in Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC)negotiations and asked the business community of Pakistan to prepare a draft of preferential trade agreement which could be discussed during the JMC. About tariff hike on Pakistani rice in Kenya, he said the decision was taken on the pressure of Eastern African bloc. 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. He said that High Commission of Kenya would organise ICCI’s meetings with relevant government officials and other stakeholders.
In his welcome address, ICCI President Atif Ikram Sheikh urged for evolving a new strategy to 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 an affordable cost. He said Kenya should review its high tariffs on the 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 the two countries would open up new opportunities of promotion of trade as Pakistan could get greater access to Africa through Kenya while 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, which would give a significant boost to bilateral trade.