Politics and policy
Kenya to weed out illegal foreign traders
Posted Tuesday, August 21 2012 at 19:53
The government has ordered security agencies and local authorities to crack down on all foreigners hawking wares or working illegally in the country.
Trade Minister Moses Wetangula said all foreigners including Chinese traders who are trading illegally in Kenya should be arrested, charged and deported.
Issuing a statement on Chinese infiltration in Kenya, Mr Wetangula defended over 4000 Chinese businessmen who legitimately reside and do business in Kenya.
“China extended significant support to Kenya in the past. Grants totalled Sh1.929 billion while loans stood at Sh40.1 billion in the last financial year. This makes a total of 42.2 billion which is significant support,” said Wetangula.
The minister tabled a list of 11 companies which have been licensed to conduct business out of which ten have been authorized to do so by City Council of Nairobi (CCN) and one by Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK).
The minister said whereas there is no law restricting Chinese or other foreigners from hawking in Kenya after the repeal of the Trade Restrictions Ac to pave way for liberalization, no foreigner is allowed to do business in the country without requisite permits.
“We have liberalised the market for free trade and we have Kenyans hawking in Guangzhou and Beijing and there should be no cause for alarm so long as they trade in Kenya legally,” he said in response to concerns raised by Dujis MP Adan Duale.
MPs Shakeel Shabir, Gitobu Imanyara, Yusuf Chanzu, Clement Wambugu and Ephraim Maina demanded to know what the government is doing to address the influx of foreigners trading illegally in Kenyan and protect locals from cheap imports.
“No law restricts Chinese or other foreigners from hawking so long as they have permits,” said the minister warning Kenyans to guard against synophobic tendencies that have been the cause of problems in South Africa where Kenyans working there have been affected.
He said the ministry of foreign affairs is developing trade policy that will culminate into a Trade Bill to address concerns and safeguard the interests of small local businesses.
There have been demonstrations in Nairobi by small scale traders who oppose the hawking by Chinese traders of cheap products.
“We are also addressing the issue of counterfeits through an Act of parliament to be brought to this House. We are also protecting our local traders by ensuring that they get at least 10 per cent of government contracts. In addition, we are exploring market access for Kenyan export products,” he added.
The Minister said under Vision 2030, plans to establish wholesale hubs for Kenyans products both locally and abroad is underway.
In tourism, the minister said Kenya has been granted approved destination status by China and the national career Kenya Airways has direct flights to Beijing and Guangzhou.
He said 37, 000 Chinese tourists came into the country last year while China issued 9922 visas to Kenya in 2011 out of which 80 per cent were commercial visas.
“This is proof that there exist cordial relations in various sectors which continue to expand,” he said but called for closer cooperation between the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration to ensure that the law is implemented.