The Egyptian Embassy in Nairobi and the Economic and Trade Bureau, hosted the Egypt-Kenya Business Bridge Forum to explore business ties and possibilities of co-operation with companies in Kenya.
This was an opportunity for business people of the two countries to take advantage of the mission to explore investment opportunities, network, exchange knowledge, develop trading and collaborative relationships, promote bilateral trade, and enhance regional and international trade.
Speaking during the event held at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi, Deputy Director International Trade, Ministry of Trade, Investment and Industry Sylvia Kaburu called for continued intra-Africa trade expansion in the spirit of the African Continental Free Trade Area and as a way of cushioning the continent from trade disruptions in other parts of the world.
She called on Kenyan manufacturers to take advantage of the existing trade agreements between the two countries to facilitate the free movement of goods to the North African nation.
Further, Kaburu emphasized the need to promote long lasting alliances between governments, state actors and the commercial sector to help endure shocks.
“I acknowledge the warm and cordial relations that exist between our two countries as evidenced by continued co-operation and partnership on issues of mutual interest,” said Kaburu.
She further said that Kenya is committed to deepen and expand bilateral trade and investment co-operation with Egypt and that the Kenyan government has formulated business friendly policies to support the growth of the sector.
“To get back to development momentum, economic recovery through economic expansion, partnerships and cooperation, trade and industry and investment diversification is very key,” Kaburu reiterated.
“Kenya is committed to deepen and expand bilateral trade and investment co-operation with Egypt and our presence here today is testament to this desire to deepen and expand this unique relationship. The government of Kenya has formulated business policies to support the growth of this sector so as to realize its potential,” she added.
Kaburu encouraged business associations and councils to work together and that the forum would serve as a practical and significant stride towards opening new markets.
“Business associations and councils should work together to enhance business between the private sector in both countries and I believe this forum will serve as a practical and significant stride towards opening new markets that will encourage investments, trade and transfer of technology between both countries,” Kaburu maintained.
Egypt through its Ambassador to Kenya Khaled Elabyad, called on business people to explore more sectors than the traditional agricultural and chemical products. He called for cooperation to improve the quality of products through joint ventures, technology and skill transfer programmes.
“Egypt remains the third most important trading partner with Kenya, with Nairobi as an important gateway to East and Central Africa. Our volumes of trade between the two countries have expanded over the years to over USD $600 million and we are on track to achieving our one billion dollars target through expansion to new sectors,” Khaled Elabyad told the participants.
Speaking on behalf of the private sector Kenya National Chamber of Commerce Vice President Dr. Eric Ruto said the chamber has continued to promote trade and investment between the two countries through trade missions, formation of joint business councils, joint partnerships and agreements between the Cairo and Kenyan chambers of commerce.
“Mutual understanding with a positive attitude would promote the development of bilateral relations and escalate the growth of business opportunities,” he added.
At the same time, the Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director of Chandaria Industries Limited, Mr. Darshan Chandaria pointed out that the Chandaria Industries Limited has had a business relationship with various Egyptian companies.
“My company Chandaria Industries which is the leading manufacturer of tissue and hygiene products in Kenya has had a business relationship with various Egyptian companies since 2008 and this relationship continues to grow rapidly and sustainably,” said Chandaria.
He mentioned that Kenya and Egypt are members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) trading block and that the forum has provided preferential trade tariffs for both countries.
Darshan noted that there are supply chain issues affecting global trade and that Kenya and Egypt being the two leading economies in North and Eastern Africa will continue to cement their positions.
“In today’s world where supply chain issues continue to affect global trade there is a huge opportunity for inter-African trade and Kenya and Egypt will certainly continue to cement their positions as the two leading economies in North and Eastern Africa respectively,” noted Chandaria.
He however said that Egypt continues to lead the continent in cost effective manufacturing giving their companies an edge over Kenyan goods hence the existing imbalance of trade.
The event brought participating companies into contact with potential agents, importers, distributors/ wholesalers, retailers, joint venture partners, local businesses and Government agencies in the region.
By Ella Elizabeth and Isaac K’Obonyo