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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Kenya to enhance trade with Lanka

"We look forward to interact more with Sri Lanka and three trade agreements being discussed at present will be signed when a business delegation from Sri Lanka visits Nairobi next year," Director, Economic Affairs and International Trade of Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nairobi, Nelson Ndirangu Ogn told Industry and Commerce Minister Rishard Bathiudeen in Colombo last week.

A nine-member trade delegation led by Ogn was in Colombo to attend the Joint Economic Cooperation (JEC) meeting between the two countries.

“We hope to become a middle income country by 2030. The three agreements we hope to sign are bilateral trade agreement, agreement on avoidance of double taxation, and the agreement on promotion and protection of bilateral investments," Ogn said.

"Our Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries will visit Sri Lanka to sign it when it is ready," he said.

In 2013, trade between both countries stood at US $13.94 million compared to US $ 12.78 million in 2012.

Among Sri Lanka's exports to Kenya in 2013 were natural rubber, tyres, sacks and bags, fibre, tea, rice, coconut coir, and activated carbon. Trade from January to June 2014 totalled US $5.86 million.

"Once we formalise the three instruments at government-to-government level, the private sectors at both ends could launch activities. A draft agreement is also being finalised for agricultural cooperation."

"We also need to have B2B interaction and forge Chamber level links. Following President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to Kenya last year, the Nairobi Chamber of Commerce and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce entered into an MoU which has strengthened bilateral trade," Ogn said.

“The JEC has helped to export our fruits and vegetables, construction material, ceramics and leather products to Kenya.We note your interest in our leather processing sector. We thank you for inviting us to Kenya's 'Tea Expo' in 2015," said Minister Bathiudeen.

Ogn and Minister Bathiudeen also discussed other avenues of bilateral cooperation.

Kenya discovered oil and gas in 2012 and is now the ninth largest economy in Africa. In its Global Competitiveness Report 2014-15, the World Economic Forum listed Kenya as the sixth best among the top 10 economic performers of Africa.

"If you inform the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) in advance about important events in your trade calendar, we could facilitate even greater B2B interaction," he said.

Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Anura Siriwardene, Chairman and CEO, EDB, Bandula Egodage, DG, EDB, Sujatha Weerakoone and Director General, Department of Commerce, R. D. S. Kumararatne were also present.

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