Kenya, SA to form joint council, committee to negotiate trade
Kenya and South Africa are mulling over establishing a joint business council and joint technical committee to address issues related to migration and trade barriers.
The council will mainly bring business people on board, while the technical committee will be a government-to-government affair. The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mombasa chairman James Mureu said there have not been serious cooperation between the two countries, which makes them lose out on their business potential.
He spoke on Monday when South Africa envoy to Kenya Koleka Anita paid a courtesy call on Kilifi-based Milly Glass. a container glass and table ware manufacturer. Mureu and Anita said the council and the committee will replicate business from the two partners and enhance social cooperation.
They said the two units will ensure signed bilateral trade agreements between South Africa and Kenya are activated.
“There is no point of signing a bilateral agreements a country if we don’t breathe life into them and make sure that they are brought to realisation,” Mureu said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma signed four memoranda of understanding and two bilateral agreements, which could improve relations between the two countries, during Zuma’s visit to Kenya on October 2016.
They signed an agreement on defence cooperation, which the leaders said will help define their working relations in combating security threats in the region. Anita said if the South and East Africa community come together, the resulting market force will be felt across the entire continent.
Mureu said the two units will also focus on twinning Mombasa with Durban as tourism destinations and trade hubs. “We can do a lot of trade between the cities bearing in mind that we deal in shipment of goods,” he said.
Anita said Mombasa is a strategic location for South Africa. “We need to get to action in terms of areas of interest,” she said. A delegation to seal business deals between Mombasa and Durban will be led by Governor Hassan Joho, she said.
Imports to Kenya from South Africa were valued at Sh61.3 billion in 2015, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Economic survey 2016 shows. This is in favour of SA as Kenya’s exports were valued at a paltry Sh4.3 billion.
Anita said there is need to elevate relations to bi-national level, where the two heads of states will be leading trade talks. She said the two nations, with the guidance of the council and the committee, poverty levels will be reduced and business will improve.
“When people are poor, they are likely to be involved in crime. It’s a good thing that Milly Glass employs over 500 families – it is not enough, it has a potential to do more,” Anita said.