Fresh produce growers are expected to be the main beneficiaries of trade deals that President Uhuru Kenyatta will sign on his visit to China next month.
The President will be in China for the second time in as many months to attend the inaugural Shanghai Import Expo during which Kenya is expected to seal a number of trade deals.
The pacts are meant to bridge the huge trade gap between Kenya and China, currently tilted in favour of the latter.
China sold goods worth Sh390 billion to Kenya last year, reflecting a growth of 20 per cent over the Sh337 billion a year earlier, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. In exchange, Kenya sold goods worth Sh10 billion to China.
The delegation to China will include horticultural farmers and traders, who will witness the signing of food safety accords expected to open the Asian nation’s market to avocados, mangoes and cashew nuts from Kenya.
In 2016, Kenya exported 26,000 tonnes of mangoes to the Middle East markets of then United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar.
Kenya sells avocados worth about Sh240 million to the UK annually. The revival of the cashew nut industry is a key plank of the national government’s efforts to address the plight of farmers, mostly at the coast.
The Sanitary and Phytosanitary deal could lead to China taking up to 40 per cent of Kenya’s fresh produce. It will also allow the export to the Chinese market of stevia, a natural sweetener largely grown in the Rift Valley.
“Another expected outcome of the President’s visit to Shanghai will be the signing of an MoU for the establishment of a trade negotiation working group whose mandate will be to negotiate trade tariffs, especially on tea and coffee exports to China as well as explore additional markets for the country’s cash crops,” said a statement from State House.
The deal was the highlight of yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, which resolved that exports and marketing of Kenya be handled under one body — Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (Keproba).
The new agency combines the tasks previously handled by the Export Promotion Council and Brand Kenya.