NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 16 – Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has called upon the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to consider partnering with East African countries to improve the trade and investment climate in the region.
Mr Kenyatta told a Saudi Arabia – East African Forum in Ethiopia that this could be achieved by, for example, signing agreements that eliminate double taxation for the business community as well as those that seek to promote and protect investments.
“The need for bilateral and regional co-operation to create an enabling environment for trade and investment cannot be over-emphasised,” he said adding that political will was required to eradicate the non-tariff barriers and create business friendly laws and regulations.
He challenged participants at the forum to come up with mechanisms for enhanced co-operation between the governments and business communities from the two sides.
The Minister also sought to assure the Saudi investors that the 200 million-people region had many opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, energy and tourism that could be exploited to offer good returns on investments.
“The growth rates of the individual countries in the regions speak volumes of the potential for favourable returns on investment, ensuring that both the investor and the countries benefit from the relationship,” Mr Kenyatta said.
The need for partnership the Minister added was particularly important in food production which would not only serve to ensure food security but would also go a long way in spurring economic development and growth.
Saudi’s financial strength and technical know-how would enable the region to exploit the thousands of acres of under utilised arable land in order to develop agriculture.
Mr Kenyatta also took the opportunity to market Kenya saying it provides an easy access to the EAC and COMESA markets has a vibrant financial sector and a large pool of excellently trained manpower.