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Kenya woos Brazilian traders

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 6 – The government has invited the Brazilian business community to import more Kenyan products so as to reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries.

Trade Minister Amos Kimunya on Tuesday decried the trading volume which is currently heavily skewed in favour of Brazil and urged the South Americans to start exploring more business opportunities in the country.

“We are only exporting a very small amount which is mainly hides and skin and a bit of tea ,but there’s a lot more that we can do including export of services such as tourism and joint cooperation such as manufacturing here for the region,” the minister told a seminar for business delegations from the two countries.

According to 2009 figures, Kenya exports to Brazil stood at Sh81 million against imports of approximately Sh4.9 billion.

During the meeting, the minister marketed Kenya as a good investment hub saying it has easier access to many parts of Africa and international markets and is investing heavily in infrastructure which would translate into lower production costs for investors.

He disclosed that the two parties were still holding discussions on the Bilateral Air Services Agreement which would pave way for airlines to commence flights between South America and east Africa.

Technical teams involved in the talks were hoping to take advantage of the presence of the Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Kenya to work out the finer details of the agreement and ensure that it is signed soon.

Mr Kimunya said negotiations revolved around the routes that airlines will operate in, where they will land, taxation issues among others.

“I hope that sooner rather than later we will complete our discussions so that we can have direct flights from South America through Brazil into Africa. This will be an important step for Kenya,” the minister added.

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Energy Assistant Minister Maalim Mohamud Mohamed expressed Kenya’s desire to learn from their Brazilian counterparts in the area of biofuel production which would reduce her import bill on petroleum products.

Last year, Kenya consumed 3.8 billion tonnes of imported petroleum fuels at a cost of $2 billion (Sh160 billion), which accounted for about 47 percent of foreign exchange earnings from the country’s principal export.

“Given this situation, there is a need to look for economically viable alternatives for motor fuel and industrial process energy. There is therefore a lot that Kenya can learn from Brazil in this area,” he said.

Brazil is the world’s leader in the production and use of ethanol from sugarcane and it estimated that this year, ethanol generation will be nearly 27 billion litres.

Brazilian Vice Minister of Development, Industry and Trade Ivan Ramalho said his country is open for business and presents many opportunities which the local private sector can tap into.

Mr Ramalho pointed to the World Trade Organisation’s figures which show that among the 30 largest economies in the globe, Brazil recorded the greatest growth in imports in 2009 which signals the growth of their economy and their conducive business climate for doing business.

“I would like to tell Kenya business people that there are many opportunities available to people who want to trade with Brazil. Our economy is wide open, we have no barriers and most of our systems are computerised,” he said.

He invited senior government officials and local traders to visit Brazil and showcase their products so as to reverse the low trade figures and further enhance bilateral ties.

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