Turkish business leaders will visit Kenya this week as part of a joint trade diplomacy plan meant to double the value of trade between the two countries by end of 2013.
Turkey is seeking Kenya as an entry point to the grand free trade area planned by the East Africa Community Common Market for Eastern and Central Africa (Comesa) and the South Africa Development Community starting mid-2014.
Kenya, on the other hand, is eyeing Turkey as a potential large scale buyer of its tea, coffee and flowers.
Kenya is also targeting Turkey as a market for diversified goods in line with the new export plan launched in May.
“Our narrow export base is part of the reason why the country’s imports outstrip exports by three times,” said Ruth Mwaniki, Export Promotion Council chief executive.
The total value of trade between the two countries more than doubled from $100 million in 2010 when they signed a Joint Economic Commission to $214 million by December 2011, according to the Kenya Economic Survey 2012.
The Joint Economic Commission envisages increasing the value of trade between the two countries to $500 million in 2013.
This week, a delegation of Turkish steel exporters is set to visit Kenya to meet with government officials, private sector commercial importers and industrial users of steel on possible business partnerships. Kenya is currently a net importer of steel.
The delegation comprising 22 Turkish steel manufacturers and exporters will be led by Namik Ekinci, the chairman of the Turkish Steel Exporters Association.
“We are coming to make contact with relevant government departments and private sector players who deal in steel. We are optimistic that these discussions will further cement the vibrant trade relations that Kenya and Turkey have enjoyed over the years,” said Mr Ekinci.
According to the delegation’s itinerary, the team will hold meetings with key ministries in the country charged with implementing infrastructure projects, which require a heavy input of steel, and regulating mining activities.
Kenya, like the rest of the region, is currently enjoying a construction boom heightening the demand for steel and related products.
Statistics indicate that steel imports have grown in the past five years from $277 million to $495 million driven by increased investment in the construction sector and infrastructure projects.
Turkey is seeking the regional steel market to bolster its growing position as a strong player in the global steel market, where it is the second largest crude steel producer in Europe, and tenth largest in the world.
The Joint Trade Commission envisages Turkey establishing an export processing zone in Nairobi as part of its outreach efforts to the regional market.
In March, one of the biggest Turkish investment in Kenya, a $100 million construction materials business was set up under the partnership of Turkish LTK and a local company Zynmat Investments Ltd, under the trade name LTK Home.
Latek Logistics, another Turkish company also started a $60 million investment in the country and part of its planed outreach to eastern and central Africa region, officials said earlier.