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Kenya courts Israeli business

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 4 – The Israeli business community has been urged to assist Kenyan businesses to add value to their products as one way of enhancing trade volumes between the two countries.

Trade Minister Amos Kimunya said on Friday that although the current trade imbalance is heavily skewed towards Israel, the private sectors could partner to reduce it.

“The total volume of trade in 2008 was Sh9.7 billion and if you disaggregate the two, Israel is doing very well with Sh8.2 billion and Sh1.5 billion for Kenya. We now need to do more to address this imbalance,” he said.

While observing that Kenya’s current trade policies were focused on value addition and aggressive search for markets, he acknowledged that more needed to be done to realise this objective particularly as the government has plans to transform the country into a middle-income country by 2030.

The Minister spoke during the opening of a business forum for Kenyan and Israeli investors which was also addressed by the visiting Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Liberman.

He invited more Israeli investors to set up businesses in the country which offers attractive return on investment.

“I wish to assure the delegation that investing in Kenya and in the region makes good business sense. Indeed the rate of return on investments in the region continues to be above the global average,” Mr Kimunya bragged.

He also reassured investors that Kenya is now politically stable under the Grand Coalition government.

“We take cognisance of the fact that political and economic stability are intertwined and are key pillars for long term prosperity of a nation,” he said.

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On his part Mr Liberman – who is also the Foreign Affairs Minister – expressed his country’s willingness to support to Kenya in terms of expertise, innovation and products to help it address challenges such as the food and water crises that the country is currently facing.

His remarks came hours after the two governments signed an agreement on water resource management, irrigation and capacity building.

His government has also pledged to work with its Kenyan counterpart to establish a Search and Rescue Unit within the Armed Forces.

This is a continuation of his government’s support to Kenya in disaster management and rescue operations such as those following the United States Embassy in 1998, Mr Liberman remarked.

He added that this collaboration is a demonstration of the cordial relations that the two countries have with each other.

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