Kenya and South Africa have agreed to set up a technical team that will advise on ways to boost trade between the two countries and address bilateral imbalances.
This comes after Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta held a meeting with his host and South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday in Pretoria.
Addressing the journalists, Mr Kenyatta noted that the two countries have had a diplomatic relationship for close to three decades and would be best to address the imbalances for the benefit of the two countries.
“In addition to strong bilateral relations which span a wide range of areas, Kenya and South Africa are close partners at the regional and global stage,” said President Kenyatta.
He added that “the technical team that will be formed should review the range of goods and services that South Africa imports from the rest of the world and identify those that South Africa could source from Kenya and vice versa.”
Mr Kenyatta further added that trade and investment remain key pillars in the bilateral relations of the two countries, despite South Africa being one of the leading trading partners in sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2020, Kenya’s exports to South Africa were approximately $33 million while Kenya’s imports from South Africa were about $430 million. Over the last 10 years, the Kenyan trade values have been relatively static.
With respect to investment, South Africa is a major source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Kenya. During the period between 2016 and 2019, South Africa’s investment in Kenya rose sharply from $2.2 billion to $ 3.1 billion.
Mr Kenyatta also said that Kenya is working with South Africa and is keen to change imbalances through increasing manufacturing capacity and innovation.
“We can sustainably drive the increase of Kenyan exports to your country. We are confident that we have a wide of range of products that would be beneficial to South Africa,” said President Kenyatta.
During his visit, President Kenyatta and President Ramaphosa witnessed the signing of eight agreements including Memoranda of Understanding in transport, health, diplomatic consultations and training as well as tourism and migration.
Others were a bilateral air services agreement (Basa) as well as MoUs on government printing works and the return of nationals refused entry and illegal entrants.
Kenyan President said there are enormous opportunities that exist in Kenya within the Big Four Agenda, for private sector investment with priority areas being investments in Universal Health Coverage (UHC), quality affordable housing, food security, and manufacturing.
These priority areas are designed to offer good returns and are transformational in value addition, job creation and improvement in the quality of life for our citizens.
The two governments also agreed to address the bottlenecks in the trade and investment regime between the two countries as an important building bloc towards harnessing the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA).
Mr Kenyatta said the two governments are already working together to lobby countries in their respective trading blocs to ratify the Tripartite Free Trade Area.
“I appreciate the progress made so far towards the realisation of the Reciprocal Visa-Free Travel Regime between our two countries. This will certainly act as a catalyst to boosting trade and investment between our two brotherly countries, for the mutual benefit of our peoples,” said President Kenyatta.
At the same time, the Kenyan leader commended President Ramaphosa for his exemplary leadership during his tenure as the chairman of the African Union.
“The Africa Bureau that you led, and which I was delighted to be a part of, established the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for Covid-19 which continues to guide our successful response to the pandemic to date,” President Kenyatta said.