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Kenya, Sri Lanka sign air services deal

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 18 – Kenya Sri Lanka have entered into a bilateral air services agreement that will see the trade imbalance between the two countries reduced.

Speaking during the signing ceremony on Tuesday, Transport Minister Amos Kimunya said the agreement provides for multiple designation and unrestricted weekly frequencies as well as code-sharing arrangements, which if fully utilised would provide an enormous potential to both countries national carriers.

"Kenya and Sri Lanka negotiated and concluded the first Bilateral Air Services Agreement in March 2008. This agreement laid the framework for direct access to the two economies that offer a combined market of over 60 million people. Our airlines could therefore benefit immensely by launching services between our two countries," said the Minister.

The deal, he added, was just one of the tools that the countries are adopting to increase trade among them.

"The latest figures we have are from 2007 in terms of our exports, stood at Sh495. 6 million as compared to 225.43 million for Sri Lanka. It is still a very small number, but we must appreciate that there has been challenges in terrorism in Sri Lanka and we have not had this connectivity. And part of boosting this trade is the signing of this agreement today," Mr Kimunya said.

He however pointed out that although small, trade volumes between the two states which are among the world\’s largest producers of tea had been on the upward trend for the past decade.

Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Kenya Jayantha Dissanayake said his country was willing to explore other investment opportunities and would send a task team to Kenya to inspect the possibility of establishing a vocational training centre in the country.

"I have also discussed with the Minister of Agriculture on the possibility of developing the coconut industry in Kenya because the country has very fertile land, similar to that of Sri Lanka, especially towards the coastline. It is extremely ideal for coconut cultivation," the envoy added.

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