Chamber boss pitches for Kenya trade in Colombia

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) president Richard Ngatia (left) meeting Colombia Vice President Francia Marques in Bogota to push for stronger trade ties. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The head of Kenya’s main business group on Thursday pushed for increased trade between Kenya and South America amid calls for direct flights between Nairobi and the region.

The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) president Richard Ngatia says much trade has been realised between Kenya and more than 450 million people in the South American market.

Official data does not capture trade between the two regions with Kenyan exports to South America being below Sh1.5 billion in 2021.

“With a growing economy, a young workforce that is tech-savvy and a supportive government, Kenya is an attractive investment destination,” he said at the International Chambers Conference in Colombia.

He cited Kenya's East Africa Community membership with a population of 466 million people, Comesa with a population of 560 million and Africa Free Trade Area with a population of 1.3 billion people.

Mr Ngatia held talks with Colombia Vice President Francia Marques on the need for stronger trade ties between the two countries.

Ms Marques called for direct flights between the capital Bogota and Nairobi.

The talks also proposed blending Kenyan and Colombian tea and coffee to come up with a superior hybrid brand.

Ms Marques said the two countries can also benefit from innovation and technological exchange to boost trade and commerce.

Mr Ngatia, who in December was appointed to the World Chambers Federation (WCF), pitched Kenya as the preferred investment destination to the conference’s participants underlining the country’s position as the nerve centre of East and Central Africa.

He became the first Kenyan to sit on the council of the powerful lobby for trade chambers with his appointment seen as a major boost to local businesses.

Further, engagements to establish leather tanneries and apparel factories in Kenya by Colombia were discussed alongside for joint infrastructure projects including special economic zones for food processing and value addition and dams for irrigation.  

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