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Business lobbies call for India export push to bridge trade deficit

Rahul Chhabra
Indian High Commissioner to Kenya Rahul Chhabra. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Business lobby groups have called for a concerted effort to address the huge trade imbalance in favour of India against Kenya.

The United Business Association (UBA) and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) said India enjoys a trade surplus with Kenya because local industries lack an avenue to penetrate the Indian market.

KNCCI chief executive Angela Ndambuki said Kenya needs to encourage Indian firms to set up local manufacturing bases for exporting goods back to their countries, through incentives such as export processing zones.

“Strengthened business ties are key to enhanced Kenya exports to India and this could be in form of manufacturing investments that support the Big Four agenda units or their enablers,” said Ms Ndambuki at the second International Indo-Africa Business-to-Business Trade Expo in Nairobi on Monday.

Central Bank of Kenya data shows India exports to Kenya were worth Sh185.15 billion last year, an 8.65 percent growth from Sh170.41 billion realised in 2017, that mostly comprised of pharmaceuticals, steel, machinery and automobiles.

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In turn, Kenya mainly exported agricultural produce to India earning Sh9.1 billion last year, which was a significant improvement from 2017’s Sh5.98 billion.

India High Commissioner to Kenya Rahul Chhabra said the issue top-level state-to-state meetings was addressing the issue, adding that a Kenya trade delegation is currently in India scouting for opportunities.

UBA Director Mukesh Desai invited India companies to partner with local firms, saying this would help Kenyan-made products to access India markets.

The three-day event has attracted 42 Indian companies that are exhibiting their products intending to clinch new business ties with their Kenyan counterparts and clients.

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