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Economy

Qatar, Saudi Arabia leaders eye trade deals with Kenya visits

Saudi second deputy Prime Minister Prince Moqren Bin Abdulaziz. FILE PHOTO | AFP
Saudi second deputy Prime Minister Prince Moqren Bin Abdulaziz. FILE PHOTO | AFP 

The Qatar leader and a Saudi Arabian prince will this week ink business deals as President Uhuru Kenyatta hosts top Middle East officials.

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al–Thani, is expected in the country tomorrow accompanied by “a contingent of business leaders keen on striking deals with their Kenyan counterparts.”

And Prince Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia will on Wednesday meet Mr Kenyatta to discuss diplomatic and trade matters that will benefit both countries.

Both visits come at a time when Kenya is seeking to bolster trade relations with resource-rich Middle East countries, exemplified by last year’s lifting of a ban on the exportation of labour to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.

During his presidency, Mr Kenyatta has made two State trips to the United Arab Emirates for talks with the country’s top leaders.

“The booming economic growth in Qatar provides numerous business and investment opportunities for Kenyans including engineering and construction, subcontracting,” noted a communiqué from State House. “Qatar also offers hotel and restaurant businesses and employment of Kenyan youth.”

The two countries will sign several partnership agreements touching on higher education and scientific research and cultural co-operation.

Saudi Arabia’s minister of commerce Majed bin Abdullah Al-Kassab will also visit the country with a delegation of 80 potential investors and entrepreneurs.

“The investors have interests in agriculture, energy, construction, transport, healthcare among others.  (The minister) will be hosted by his Kenyan counterpart Adan Mohamed of Industry and Trade,” the communiqué said.

In 2015, Kenya imported Sh55 billion worth of goods and services from Saudi Arabia and only exported Sh5.6 billion, according to the 2016 Economic Survey.

Kenya’s major exports to Saudi Arabia include tea, coffee, vegetables, textile materials, jute, fruit and nuts, fruit and vegetable juices, meat and meat products among others.

State House reckons that this huge imbalance of trade can be bridged by exporting products like fish and fish products, live animals, dairy products and tourism.

Kenya and Qatar formally established diplomatic relation in December 2003. Seven years ago, Kenya opened an embassy in Doha (Qatar’s capital) while Qatar did the same in Nairobi in 2012.

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