The push to strengthen trade ties between Nairobi and Moscow has gone a notch higher with Kenya sending over 30 high government officials to Russia last week.
Led by Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi, the delegation follows June’s visit Russia’s second largest city by Prime Minister Raila Odinga where he met with the Russian president Vladimir Putin during this year’s St Petersgburg economic forum.
Drawn from different industries including energy, foreign affairs, industrialisation, transport and trade, the team held talks with Russian government officials in efforts meant to bolster business relations between the two countries.
Following the move, Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has lauded Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation mid this year saying it is a great boost in its effort to clinch the market as a growing Kenyan tea consumer.
The beverage agency, which manages the small-scale tea business, said it is already packaging its products to accommodate the Russian market demands.
Particularly, the agency is diversifying into orthodox teas which are more preferred in Russia than the cut-tear-curl teas that it currently produces for other markets.
“Any arrangements that will create better terms of trade helping us acquire new and retain existing markets are welcome.
"What is implied by the Russian accession is that we shall have it easier as we pursue the area as a good market because of favourable trade policies,” KTDA group head of corporate affairs Charles Kimathi told the Nation in a phone interview.
Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya is also looking to benefit from better Russian relations as the two countries are now in a position to trade directly with one another.
“The market there has been expanding a lot in recent years and stronger relations between Kenya and Russia is a big win for us.
Being that we are both in the WTO, there is more surety of better terms of trade since we will be operating under the same international rules,” said FPEAK chief executive Stephen Mbithi.
Kenya is strategically positioning itself to tap into the opportunities of a renewed Russia as it seeks to grow its list of new trading partners away from the traditional western countries.
Among the key personalities in the delegation included Energy PS Patrick Nyoike and his transport counterpart Cyrus Njiru, Kenya Power managing director Joseph Njoroge and the National Oil Corporation of Kenya managing director Sumayya Hassan.
Kenya Electricity Transmission Company managing director Joel Kiilu and his counterpart in Geothermal Development Company Silas Simiyu were also part of the team.