KARACHI - Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Pervaiz Malik on Wednesday said that Pakistan wants to increase trade and economic cooperation with Kenya as it is the gateway to many African counties, where there is big demand for Pakistani goods.

In search of new potential markets, Pakistan had already launched ' Look to Africa' initiative in November 2017. Pakistan and Kenya Joint Ministerial Committee has been formed with this objective, he said while speaking at the first session of two-day 'Kenya Pakistan Trade and Investment Conference' here.

Led by Kenyan Cabinet Secretary, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Dr Monica Jumma, the delegation included senior officers of trade related departments of Kenya and representatives of its private sector. The minister said it was common desire of both the countries to get socio-economic development through exchange of information and technologies, and sharing experiences in various fields.

He said that after detailed discussion at this conference, the both sides had agreed to form a Joint Trade Committee which would meet twice a year. First meeting would be held after two months in Narobi, the capital of Kenya.

The meeting would focus on products, tariff barriers and other issues relating to trade, he said. He said there was big potential for the bilateral trade and within next five years it would be increased to at least $1.25 billion. He said banking channel had been established. Habib Bank Limited had set up its branch in Nairobi.

Pakistan and Kenya had old cultural ties, which now required to be transformed into strong economic cooperation, he said adding that this two-day conference would provide opportunity for B2B meetings that would bring the two business communities closer. The bilateral trade and economic cooperation would increase in near future.

He said Pakistan was opening trade centers in Kenya and other African states.

Getting more access to new international markets for Pakistani goods through diversification and value-addition was essential to ensure better and sustained economic growth, he said.

To a question from media persons, the Federal Commerce Minister expressed his satisfaction that in the month of March 2018, the exports increased up to 24 percent and overall 14% increase was registered in last ten months.

The month of April would also show good export figures. More incentives were being given to exporters for boost to the exports.

Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Dr Monica Jumma, said Kenya was the first African country to engage in such a business-to-business and government-to-government contact through this two-day conference.

She asserted the important role of the private sectors in promoting bilateral trade and economic cooperation. The governments could only create environment and facilitate.

She told that before coming to Karachi, she had two-day stay in Islamabad. There, she had fruitful meetings with high authorities of different ministries including the Foreign Affairs.

He underlined the need for exchange of trainings and institutional research.

Pakistan could support Kenya in modernization of agriculture and in development of fishing sector. Food security was one the big challenges for her country, she said.

She praised Pakistan's role in peace-keeping efforts in the world and its frontline role in the war against terror.

Later, the minister visited Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry and held a meeting with members of this apex trade body of the country.

United Businessmen Group chairman in FPCCI and former president FPCCI, SM Muneer, FPCCI Senior Vice President Syed Mazhar Ali Nasir welcomed the minister.

FPCCI Vice Presidents Tariq Haleem, Zahid Saeed and Saeeda Bano, former vice presidents Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig and Gulazar Feroz were also present.

The minister listened to the trade related issues raised by FPCCI members and assured full cooperation and support for their resolution.