The forthcoming EU-Kenya Business Forum dubbed “Trade and Investment Opportunities in Kenya” will focus on trade opportunities.
The European Union has opened trade talks with Kenya to tap opportunities in agriculture, green energy, infrastructure and technology.
According to Martijn Boelen, EU trade counsellor and regional trade adviser, the forthcoming EU-Kenya Business Forum dubbed “Trade and Investment Opportunities in Kenya” will focus on trade opportunities.
“We want to open up to show that it is not all about Valentine’s Day and flowers. It is not all about avocados and mangoes. There are so many products that Kenya can bring to the world,” said Mr Boelen ahead of the forum that is jointly organised by the EU, its member states, European Business Council and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.
“We are underestimating the value of Kenya. So my appeal is to let this huge export and import imbalance die. Kenya can stand tall as the gateway to Africa,” he added.
The EU is the largest export destination for Kenyan products and its third source of imports.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, EU consumes 15 percent of Kenya’s total exports.
Kenyans ship flowers and agricultural products to Europe and buy manufactured goods from Europeans.
However, the overall trade value potential between the EU and Kenya is estimated to be over €500 million ($533.3 million) more per year than the actual trade value.
Henriette Geiger, the EU ambassador to Kenya, wants Kenyan fresh produce exporters to take advantage of the changing population dynamics in the EU countries.
“Why everybody is looking at Africa is because Africa has a young population. And with the young population comes ideas and energy and so it is about taking advantage and looking at these things,” said the EU ambassador.
The EU is also looking at promoting intellectual production from Kenya and from the rest of Africa.
“Film, video, and advertisement production, all these things have a huge potential that is still unexploited where you can earn much more than just exporting vegetables,” Ms Geiger said.
On the issue of standards and stringent measures that the EU is known for and thereby restrictive to Kenyan products, the Mr Boelen called on the less use of pesticides for products that can be exported to the EU market.
“Moving forward is that organic products will become the standard. It means that the supermarkets are much more restrictive than any other EU regulation not only on pesticides but also on an environmental basis,” said Boelen.