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Fair to boost Mauritius trade opens

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 27- A two-day exhibition with 20 Mauritian companies from the manufacturing and services sectors opened in Nairobi on Thursday as part of a bigger strategy to deepen bilateral relations with Kenya.

Senior government officials from the two countries said the expo where Mauritian products and services were on display was geared towards reinforcing their relations and reduce the trade imbalance which is currently in favour of the island nation.

"We want to cement our business relations with Kenya and our presence here stems from a new orientation in our trade strategy. We want to create new dimensions in trade relations with African countries and other emerging economies," said Mauritius Minister of Industry and Commerce Showkutally Soodhun.

Speaking during the official opening of the second \’Buyers Sellers Meeting\’, the minister said the two governments had revived the Joint Trade Commission as a way of deepening bilateral ties between them.

The committee met for the first time on Wednesday to deliberate ways of operationalising the Bilateral Trade Agreement signed between the two countries in 2003.

While inviting Kenyan firms to visit his country and explore the trade opportunities that exist there, Mr Soodhun disclosed that standards agencies from the two countries would soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate the flow of goods between them.

"We are asking the Mauritius Standards Bureau and the Kenya Bureau of Standards to address the bottlenecks faced by the private sector so that we can import and export goods between us," he emphasised.

This will be in addition to the liaison office that will be opened in Nairobi to promote the country\’s export to Kenya and connect potential buyers from Kenya with potential manufacturers in Mauritius.

The Commerce minister who was accompanied by his Tertiary Education, Science,  Research and Technology counterpart Dr Rajeshwar Jeetah added that trade should not only be limited to exchange of goods but should extend to services such as education and tourism.

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Also present at the function was Nairobi Metropolitan Development Minister Njeru Githae who was representing Trade Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere.

He challenged local investors to exploit more opportunities in Mauritius and said it was crucial for Kenya to revive some of its industries such as textile.

"We import a lot of \’kitenges\’ from Mauritius.  We have no alternative but revive our cotton industry. We have also been talking about setting up a fertiliser factory for the past 20 years but I think that time has finally come for us to put up that factory," Mr Githae stated.

He said the country could however learn from some of the Mauritian experiences and technology such as the use of sugar in the making of wine to grow the economy.

At the same time, the Nairobi Metropolitan Development Minister underscored the need to coordinate ministerial activities so that Kenya can attain its objectives of transforming into a middle income state in the next two decades.

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