By Samuel Ouma
President Uhuru Kenyatta has invited Gulf investors to set up shop in Kenya, noting that Kenya needs to adapt to what investors wanted and remove the bureaucratic red tape that undermined trade.
President Kenyatta spoke at the opening of the Kenya-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states business forum in Dubai on the first day of his working visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“We need to be the welcoming party. We are here to listen. We are here to facilitate. We are here to do what these investors require from us in order to come into our country to bring their investment, to help us create jobs and to help us develop our economy,” President Kenyatta said
At the same time, he asked Kenyan Government officials to be at the forefront in facilitating trade to give the country a comparative advantage as an investment destination of choice.
President Kenyatta emphasized that Kenya seeks to strengthen its trade with the UAE, noting that a wide range of goods and services that the UAE imports from other parts of the world could be produced and supplied by Kenya.
“These include services such as hospitality and tourism, banking and financial services, ICT and data processing.
“With respect to goods, we have animals and animal products, gold, cut flowers, fish, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, textiles and apparel, vegetables and fruits that the UAE could procure from Kenya at competitive prices,” President Kenyatta said.
Kenyan Head of State said enhancing trade between Kenya and the Gulf countries would help create employment and economic opportunities for young people.
He especially urged business leaders from the private and public sectors to develop a special trading framework that will give preference to small and medium enterprises in the East African Community and the GCC.
President Kenyatta also expressed the need to develop a long-term solution to the many tariff and non-tariff barriers that curtail trade between Kenya and the Gulf region.
“Towards this end, I propose we consider initiating discussions on a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council under the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement,” the President said.
President Kenyatta thanked His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayan, the President of the UAE and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, for inviting him to attend the Expo 2020 Dubai – one of the largest global events to take place during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Expo 2020 Dubai has brought renewed optimism to the world and provided us with a platform to explore new opportunities to promote trade and investment.
“Kenya is participating in the Expo to sell its brand and has come with high expectations to build new business partnerships with the nationals of this country and the close to 20 million visitors that will participate in the expo,” President Kenyatta said.
Responding to trade concerns raised by the Kenya business delegation, UAE Under Secretary of Economy Abdulla Alsaleh assured that the Gulf nation is working to remove any obstacles that hinder trade between the two countries.
Kenyatta arrived in Dubai on Tuesday evening for a three-day state visit.
President Kenyatta is set to hold talks with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi at the Sea Palace in Abu Dhabi.