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Kenya missing out on Indian tourists

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14 – Kenya should start aggressively marketing tourism in India which is one of the areas that the two countries can exploit to diversify and expand bilateral trade between them.

This was the message by visiting Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma who pointed out that tourism is just one of the many potential sectors that the two countries could tap into to, reduce their trade imbalance which is currently in favour of the Asian country.

"Indian tourists are travelling in large numbers and they have overtaken the high-spending tourists from Japan. This (Kenya) is a beautiful country, it\’s a beautiful region, it has a great potential for tourism and hospitality industry and that is where a lot of trade can take place for the benefit of your country," he told a business forum for Kenyan and Indian delegates.

Other sectors such as leather and agriculture were also some of the areas of cooperation that need to be harnessed in order to boost trade.

Although bilateral trade has recorded significant growth over the years increasing from $625 million 2005/2006 to $1.53 billion in 2009/2010, trade is still skewed towards India.

For instance, while India\’s exports to Kenya rose from $576 million in 2005/2006 to $1.45 billion in 2009/2010, her imports from Kenya grew marginally from $48 million to $79 million during the same period.

Earlier, the minister had meet his Kenyan counterpart Chirau Ali Mwakwere with whom they held discussions and issued a joint communiqué where they reaffirmed the two governments\’ commitment to enhance competitiveness and mutually undertake decisions that are geared towards boosting trade relations.

Towards this end, a number of projects in various sectors of the economy such as energy, infrastructure development, agriculture and agro-processing, were considered.

"The two sides agreed to make all possible efforts to achieve a target of bilateral trade of $2.5 billion in the next three years that is in the financial year 2012/13," said the statement.

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The two countries have been holding the Sixth Session of the Kenya-India Joint Trade Committee since Tuesday where they agreed to finalise the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPA) and the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) which will provide protection to investors against double taxation and thus encourage investments.

"As regards BIPA with Kenya, India\’s Department of Economic Affairs has agreed to negotiations between India and Kenya to finalise the text of two countries. Regarding DTAA, the Indian side has already proposed to hold the next round of negotiations for a revised DTAA during the period November10-12, 2010 in Nairobi. Kenyan side has confirmed the same," the communiqué further stated.

During the meeting, the Kenya requested for a Sh2.4 billion loan to develop various sectors including manufacturing, textile, an appeal which the Indian side assured would be considered once a formal proposal was received from the Kenyan government.

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