Yesterday, the UK Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya, Susie Kitchens, spoke at the official opening of the Kenya Trade week.
In her address, Ms Kitchens said the Export Development and Promotion Strategy was an important step in unlocking Kenya’s trade potential and said that the visits of both the International Development Secretary and Trade Minister to Kenya underline the country’s importance to Britain as a trading partner.
She also focused on the relationship between the two countries once the UK has left the European Union and revealed that ‘good progress’ had been made to plan for trade continuity following Brexit. Ms Kitchens added that the ‘Implementation Period’ following the UK’s departure from the EU would allow Kenyan exports to continue to enter Britain without any tariffs or quotas.
Attention was also drawn to recent data which showed that while trade between the two countries is fairly balanced, Kenya’s UK market share has been declining since 2008 due to competition from ‘peers and neighbours’ who produce and export similar products to Britain.
Encouragingly, she added that there were immediate opportunities to stem this tide and grow trade and investment into Kenya, citing the Early Oil Pilot Scheme launch as one example. However, she highlighted that this scheme had been suspended following disruptions caused by protestors which had caused significant losses and put at risk both foreign investment and future exports.
The UK is currently Kenya’s fifth biggest export destination, behind the United States, the Netherlands, Uganda and Pakistan.
In 2017 coffee and tea topped Kenya’s exports at 29 percent of total exports with a value of US$1.7 billion followed by cut flowers at 10.4 percent, mineral fuels including oil at 6.2 percent and vegetables at 3.6 percent.
Today at #KenyaTradeWeek2018 I pledged UK (& British tea drinkers') support for @Trade_Kenya's new Export Strategy. Deputy President @WilliamsRuto thanks UK for support via @trademarkea & @DFID_UK pic.twitter.com/PPqBrLk9kv
— Susie Kitchens (@SusieKitchens) July 31, 2018
Susie Kitchens’ Kenya Trade Week speech in full
“Your Excellency, the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, Cabinet Secretaries, distinguished guests, captains of Industry:
“I’m delighted to be here today at this important event that marks another milestone in Kenya’s trade agenda.
“The Export Development and Promotion Strategy that is being unveiled today, along with several other recent initiatives in the trade sector, is an important step in unlocking Kenya’s trade potential, sustaining growth and creating jobs in line with Vision 2030 and the Big 4 Agenda.
“On behalf of the UK and TradeMark East Africa, which is supported by Canada, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and the United States, as well as the United Kingdom, let me say how proud I am to be part of this journey.
“The UK, along with other international partners, has been working closely with the Government of Kenya to explore opportunities to implement the new strategy.
“As part of our contribution, the UK recently announced a new phase of TMEA, including specific support of about Kenya Shilling 2.8 billion (£21m) for the implementation of the export strategy.
“Kenya remains a key trade partner for the UK, with total UK/Kenya trade at approximately 133 billion Kenya Shillings (£1 billion) annually.
“Our trading relationship with Kenya is important to our Ministers: both the International Development Secretary and Trade Minister have visited Kenya this year to underline that.
“Over half the tea we drink in the UK comes from Kenya. And as a nation of tea drinkers, we are keen to keep it that way. Similarly Kenyan roses dominate the UK market, and make many Brits happy on Valentine’s Day.
“We are of course focussed on ensuring there is no disruption to this as the UK leaves the European Union.
“Over recent months, my team together with officials from the Department for International Trade in the UK, have met several times with PS Kiptoo and his colleagues.
“We have made good progress to plan for trade continuity once we leave the EU. The Implementation Period will enable Kenyan exports to continue to enter the UK without any tariffs or quotas, protecting markets for those important flowers, tea and other exports.
“The UK is working hard to negotiate a deal with the EU. And we are working with Kenya to maintain trading arrangements under a range of negotiating scenarios with the EU. We want to provide the strongest possible platform to deepen our trade relationships in the future.
“We’re keen to work together with you all on this, and ensure our bilateral trade flourishes in the years to come.
“I must note that while trade between Kenya and the UK is fairly balanced at the moment, recent analysis shows that Kenya’s share of the UK market has been declining since 2008.
“Fortunately this is not because my compatriots are drinking any less tea or giving any less thought to Valentine’s Day. Instead it is mainly due to competition from Kenya’s peers and neighbours, who produce and export similar products to the UK.
“There are immediate opportunities to stem this tide, and grow both trade with, and investment into, Kenya, across many sectors.
“One example: the export strategy launched here today highlights oil and gas as one of the expected drivers for export growth. Kenya has demonstrated significant progress already with the launch of the Early Oil Pilot Scheme last month.
“Disappointingly, operations have had to be suspended due to disruptions caused by protestors. This has caused significant losses for both the company and the Government of Kenya, and put at risk US$ 3 billion in investment and billions of future exports.”