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China pushes for larger trade volumes with Kenya

China’s ambassador to Kenya, Mr Liu Guangyuan. Photo/FREDRICK ONYANGO
China’s ambassador to Kenya, Mr Liu Guangyuan. Photo/FREDRICK ONYANGO 

China hopes its companies in Kenya will raise their investment volumes as it seeks to consolidate its existing bilateral ties in key economic growth sectors such as manufacturing.

China’s ambassador to Kenya, Mr Liu Guangyuan, on Thursday said Chinese firms were eyeing additional investments in Kenya’s manufacturing and infrastructure sectors as well as agriculture and tourism.

“From the fast development of the Chinese economy over the past three decades we have learnt that only through scientifically developed manufacturing industry can job opportunities be provided,” he told guests at a reception in Nairobi, “Manufacturing reflects the overall strength of a country and plays a fundamental and strategic role in economic growth.”

Several Chinese manufacturers are already setting up local production plants in Kenya, shifting from the previous strategy in which they supplied the domestic consumer market with goods imported from their home country.

Statistics by the Kenya Investment Authority (KIA) showed that at least 18 Chinese companies have set up shop in Nairobi in the past two years targeting diverse markets such as footwear, consumer electronics and beverages with an initial investment cost of over Sh7 billion.

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In a recent development, vehicle manufacturer Foton Motors is putting up a Sh1.2 billion assembly plant in Nairobi.

Other firms such as battery maker Golden Lion and technology firms ZTE, Huawei, and Aucma top the list of Chinese firms with a strong presence in the Kenyan market.

Data showed that Chinese companies have in the past five years alone established a strong local presence in Kenya’s telecoms infrastructure, automobile, battery, food and beverage markets cutting down the dominance of subsidiaries of western multi-nationals.

Mr Liu said that as part of bolstering growth in the Kenyan manufacturing sector, China would also strive to improve infrastructure facilities such as roads across the country.

“Therefore, the Chinese embassy will continue to encourage Chinese companies to invest in infrastructure and manufacturing in Kenya,” he said.

The envoy said besides infrastructure and manufacturing, China was also laying emphasis on the opportunities in the agriculture sector and the tourism industry.

“The per capita arable land of China is 0.1 hectares, while the per capita arable land of Kenya is 0.26 hectares. We have every reason to believe that the diligent and brilliant Kenyans can solve the problem of food shortage,” he said.

“China is ready to introduce its experience, advanced technology in agriculture, tractors and spray irrigation to Kenya,”

The Ambassador said the growth of service sectors such as tourism would help reduce trade imbalance with the Asian nation. China projects that its nationals visiting Kenya for tourism will hit 300,000 in a few years.

“Through this service trade and by some other measures, trade structures between China and Kenya will be greatly improved,” Mr Liu said.

The value of bilateral trade between Kenya and China hit Sh1.8 billion in 2010, with the Asian nation promising to prod its domestic firms to import more from the east Africa nation to address the imbalance .

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