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Kenya named ‘Guest Country’ at Korea Coffee Expo

Kenya is the “Guest Country” during this year’s Coffee Expo 2021 in Seoul, South Korea that kicked off Wednesday 14, July and will end on Saturday 17th July 2021.

The four-day Expo will position Kenya as a leading Coffee producer and exporter and as a guest in this year’s show, Kenya will be the country of focus at the expo having been given prime location and preference in all side events.

Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Betty Maina who is the leader of the delegation to Seoul said the expo will give the country an opportunity to position Kenya’s coffee as unique and of high quality.

“We are happy to be the country of focus in this year’s Coffee Expo; a platform for Kenya’s Coffee Exporters to meet farmers and sellers to network and do business with their counterparts in Korea and enhance direct sale mode of marketing coffee, which has been lucrative to the growers. This brings the aspect of linking the coffee farmers with the roasters in Korea,” said CS Maina in her statement.

She however regretted that some farmers who had planned to exhibit in the event could not manage to travel given the new travel guidelines given by the Korean government in compliance with the Covid-19 protocols.

The CS noted that since the year 2015, Kenya’s coffee exports to South Korea have been on an upward trajectory and that two years ago in 2018 Kenya exported 12 per cent of its total coffee to South Korea, which translated to 109 per cent increase from the previous year.

She added that the growth is attributable to the mutual engagement between the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya and Coffee Expo Seoul (COEX).

“There will however be a need to champion for branding of coffee in order to cut out the middlemen who always interfere with the origin of coffee that ends up affecting the quality of the coffee in general,” CS Maina said.

“Government is committed and has taken the steps to improve the environment for doing business in Kenya through policy initiatives including ease of access to credit, obtaining business permits and digitizing most government services,” CS Maina said

The CS assured the Korean business community willing to invest in Kenya that the country is open and safe for business and remains an ideal investment destination and that they are invited to explore these opportunities.

Preparation for Kenya’s participation at the expo is being coordinated by the Coffee Directorate and the Coffee Subsector Reforms Implementation Standing Committee (CSSRISC) as well as the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Enterprise Development.

According to Coffee Directorate, South Korea is one of the emerging markets and the government has a lot of interest in terms of increasing her share in the international market.

Kenya’s Coffee is ranked 4th in terms of consumption and attracts low tariffs of 8 per cent compared to others like tea that is 40 per cent. Kenya’s main exports to South Korea in 2020 comprised of coffee, and copper waste, which accounted for 80.4 per cent of total exports to South Korea.

Other export products are articles of apparels and clothing accessories, tobacco, and cut flowers, which accounted for the additional share of 14 per cent. Other products with export potential in South Korea include broccoli, bananas and powdered milk.

The overall export performance in 2019/20 shows that the country exported coffee to mainly Europe, North America and Asia. The top export destinations were United States of America (20 per cent), Germany and Belgium (17 per cent) followed by Korea at nine (9) per cent while Export volume reached 46,333 MT for 2019/20 valued at Sh22 billion (US$ 209.82 million).

Kenya has been one of South Korea’s key trade partners with a total bilateral trade between the two countries averaged at USD 272 million over the years 2011 to 2020 and total trade was high in 2014 at USD 373 million. Kenya’s export to South Korea has averaged USD 41 million.

Kenya’s exports to South Korea has averaged Sh4.4 billion (USD41 million) over the same period 2011 to 2020, and exports were high in 2016 at Sh11.2 billion (USD104 million). Imports from South Korea averaged Sh24.9 billion (USD 231 million), and the imports were high in 2014 at USD 345 million.

Kenya’s delegation to Seoul comprises of government officials and the Coffee producers  including Gatundu South Coffee Farmers, Meru Coffee Millers Cooperative Union, Kipkelion  District Cooperative Union, Embu District Cooperative Union Mill, Mt. Elgon Farmers’  Cooperative Union, Bungoma County Cooperative Union, Machakos District Cooperative  Union, Othaya Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Society, Tharaka Nithi County Coffee Mill  Cooperative Union, as well as Kenya Coffee Cooperative Exporters Ltd.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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