Kenya has intensified efforts to enhance access to the South African market, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has said.
Speaking Thursday in Durban, South Africa ahead of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s arrival for a working visit, Ms Amina said Kenya seeks to attract the country’s investors as part of the government’s strategy to generate wealth and create employment.
“Kenyan exports to South Africa face high tariffs and levies which inhibit access to the South African market by Kenyan investors,” said the minister in the statement from her ministry.
She added: “Kenya’s main exports to South Africa which include tea, soda ash, cut flowers, avocado, detergents, processed cashew and macadamia nuts, among others, face tariffs and levies which make them uncompetitive compared to those from the South African Development Community (SADC) member countries.”
Ms Amina disclosed that discussions during the visit would focus on the removal of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, among other issues of strategic interest to both countries.
“Discussions towards elevating the Joint Commission for Cooperation between Kenya and South Africa to Special Status Agreement will be a key agenda of the visit to South Africa. The aim is to bolster trade relations through high level negotiations for the elimination of tariff and non-tariffs barriers between the two countries,” said the Foreign minister.
Ms Mohamed spoke of the great potential for increased trade between the two countries, describing Kenya as one of South Africa’s leading trade partners in Africa and a major recipient of its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
“Kenya is the largest export market for South Africa’s products to East and Central Africa. However, trade balance is heavily in favour of South Africa partly due to poor market access and partly due to Kenya’s reliance on the export of primary or semi processed products while South Africa exports high value products,’’ she added.
The Cabinet Secretary cited the recent entry into the Kenyan market by Volkswagen (South Africa) to establish a motor vehicle assembly plant as well as the decision by Development Bank of South Africa to invest in LAPSSET Corridor Projects, as indicators of deepening ties between Kenya and South Africa.
Kenya and South Africa, the minister said, have made good progress in streamlining key issues including visa requirements for Kenyan nationals travelling to South Africa.
“Key among these was the acceptance by South Africa to issue Visa on arrival for official delegations, and the issuance of a one-off Visa tenable for the duration of study in South Africa for Kenyan students,” she added.
Besides holding bilateral talks with his host in Durban, President Kenyatta will also attend the 106th Anniversary celebrations of the African National Congress (ANC) in the city of East London as special guest.
During the visit, the President is also expected to hold talks with deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, the newly-elected ANC leader.