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Kenya courts Thai traders

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 24- The government is now encouraging the Thai business community to invest significantly in Kenya as one way of reducing the trade imbalance between the two countries.

External Trade Secretary at the Trade Ministry Simon Chacha on Thursday urged the Asian business people to take advantage of the improved business climate and the opportunities that exist in many sectors of the Kenyan economy.

“There are plenty of investment opportunities in agriculture, textiles, food and beverages and jewellery. Opportunities abound in Kenya for the establishment of ginneries for processing cotton and manufacturing textiles for export,” said Mr Chacha who represented his Minister Amos Kimunya.

The value of Kenya’s exports to Thailand rose from approximately Sh1 billion ($14.4 million) in 2006 to Sh2.3 billion ($32.4 million) in 2008 while imports from Thailand to Kenya increased from Sh5.3 billion ($71.8 million) to Sh9.6 billion ($130.4 million) in the same period.

The two countries signed the Trade Agreement – which is a framework for increasing trade – in 1993 but they have not operationalised the Joint Trade Commission which was meant to facilitate trade through cooperation in exchange of trade and investment information.

The Bilateral Air Services Agreement signed between the two countries in 2003 that saw Kenya Airways commence flights to Bangkok has assisted in improving trade between them in the last five years.

Mr Chacha spoke during the opening of the three days “Made in Thailand Products Showcase 2009’ exhibition in Nairobi where he asked Kenyan private sector to diversify their export products.

The Fair gives an opportunity to Thai exporters in every industry to explore overseas markets and to establish business contacts in many countries around the world. About 48 Thai firms are exhibiting products in sectors such as food, beverages, cosmetics and pharmaceutical at the KICC venue.

Thai’s Department of Export Promotion’s Minister Counsellor Suebsak Dangboonrueng said Kenya was an important destination for them as its strategic location also provided easy access to the 120 million people East African region.

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His government recently opened a commercial office in the Royal Thai Embassy which among others things is providing useful information to Kenyan traders on Thailand market.

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