UAE trade mission to East Africa works on expanding trade with Kenya

WAM NAIROUBI: Trade between UAE and Africa is expected to jump to 50 billion U. S. dollars in 2013, according to UAE Ambassador to Kenya ,Abdulrazzak Mohammed Hadi.

This will represent a 27% increase in bilateral trade between the UAE and Africa from the previous year, Hadi told journalists on Thursday in Nairobi, Kenya, in his opening remarks at a UAE business forum organised by a UAE trade mission to East Africa.

The UAE trade mission to East Africa, organised between June 23-29, is led by the Ministry of Economy and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED). The mission’s week-long tour to East Africa started with a visit to Tanzania.

Some fifty senior representatives of more than 25 UAE government entities and private companies visited Kenya explore trade and investment opportunities. The forum was attended by some three hundred Kenyan business leaders and representatives of public and private companies.

Hadi added that the volume of trade and investment between Kenya and UAE will expand as UAE’s private sector is seeking opportunities in Kenya’s aviation, mining, education, renewable energy, oil, gas and manufacturing sectors.

For his part, Undersecretary for Foreign Trade at the UAE Ministry of Economy, Abdulla Al Saleh, who leads the trade mission to East Africa, said Kenya will remain a strategic partner for the UAE, as it is the largest economy in East Africa.

Al Saleh, in his remarks at the forum, expressed the UAE’s keen interest in promoting its trade and investment relations with Kenya, as the African nation is recognised as East Africa regional trade and finance hub.

Bilateral trade between Kenya and the UAE has been steadily expanding over the past five years, he noted adding that “in 2012 it reached close to 1 billion dollars.” With agriculture among the pillars of its economy, Kenya is now a major partner for the UAE which is working on ensuring food security as one of its priorities, Al Saleh remarked adding that the African country can be a major source of high quality food supplies for the UAE.

According to the UAE senior official, more than 40,000 Kenyans live in the UAE and the majority of them work in the hospitality and construction sectors.

He noted that Kenya is a major producer of tea and coffee, and that the UAE is the major re-export hub for the two commodities.

The forum in Nairobi emphasised the importance of expanding economic cooperation so as to deliver aspirations of the two friendly people for development and prosperity.

Kenyan Foreign Affairs Secretary Amina Mohammed, in her remarks at the forum, urged UAE investors to take advantage of opportunities in Kenyan sectors including mining, industry, renewable energy, construction and free zones.

She emphasied that the Kenyan government will spare no efforts to serve UAE investors in order to facilitate economic and trade partnerships between the two countries.

She noted that the government will closely monitor progress on creating joint ventures.

WAM/MMYS

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