Kenya and Israel have to develop a better framework for economic cooperation to boost trade between the two countries, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
He said the two countries have not exploited their enormous trade potential because of the absence of a framework to facilitate mutual engagement.
Kenyatta spoke Thursday when he addressed an Israeli-Kenya business forum in the commercial city of Tel Aviv that was attended by representatives of major Israeli companies, Kenyan business leaders and government officials.
He made five proposals for improving trade and investment to strengthen existing relations and to open up new areas of cooperation.
The first is that a framework of cooperation between Kenya and Israeli private sectors be established, and a Joint Trade Committee be convened, to look into ways of expediting the growth of our trade and investment.
The second is that a pending bilateral trade agreement between our nations be reviewed and effected.
The third is that a Kenyan trade mission to Israel be organised as a follow-up to the 2014 Israeli trade mission to Kenya, so that Kenyan businesses can talk directly to their Israeli counterparts.
The fourth is that a market survey be carried out to identify potential export products for both countries.
The fifth is that respective private sectors in Kenya and Israel formalise their engagements through a Memorandum of Understanding that will enable the monitoring and evaluation of their activities.
Kenyatta said Kenya is one of the easiest countries in which to do business as a result of deliberate reforms by the Government to make the country investor friendly.
“Your nation will also profit from investing in Kenya, a country which inspires business confidence across the world, and which is a unique access-point to an enormous regional market of over 650 million people,” the President said.
He urged Israeli investors to take advantage Kenya’s vantage position as an economic powerhouse that is a gateway to Eastern Africa.
“Equally, the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) arrangement has brought together three established regional communities including the East Africa Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC),” the President said.
“I urge Israeli investors to take advantage of this development. As Africa consolidates its economies into a continental free-trade area, the business opportunities will only grow.”
He said the government will continue to maintain its commitment to easing the cost of doing business in Kenya.
He said the Kenyan Government has heavily invested in power generation, which is now produced in surplus. The Government has also invested heavily in the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway and the construction of roads.
The President said Kenya is keen on doing more business with Israel and benefit from its expertise.
“Kenya has much to gain from doing business with Israel: we stand to benefit from the knowledge, expertise and technological leadership of Israeli firms, and from the jobs, goods and services that will be made available through the expansion of Israeli business into Kenya,” the President said.
The President said Kenya and Israel need to also work closely in security matters since the two countries face similar challenges.
“Let us do business together. Let us fight terror together,” said the President at the Carlton Hotel.