Kenyan High Commissioner in Pakistan Prof Julius Kibet Bitok has said that his country is intending to double the bilateral trade volume with Pakistan from US$ 600 million in the next two or three years.

He was addressing a meeting of Sialkot business community held at Sialkot Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI) auditorium after his visit to several industrial units in Sialkot. He said that the time was ripe to promote the bilateral trade through enhancing the exports of tea, rice, traditional and non-traditional products.

The Kenyan high commissioner offered some direct trade relations to Sialkot exporters and announced to develop strong business-to-business contacts between Kenya’s National Chamber of Commerce, the Nairobi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the SCCI.

He said Kenya as the first African country would soon host WTO International Trade Conference at Nairobi, urging the world to take Kenya favourably and positively now. He disclosed that his country was also interested to sign some free trade agreements (FTAs) and preference trade agreements (PTAs) with Pakistan to enhance trade with Pakistan.

He said that Kenya was making some effective and positive measures to ensure maximum flow of foreign investment as it would provide secured and investment-friendly atmosphere for the foreign investors especially to the Pakistani investors.

He announced to ensure direct imports of Sialkot-based surgical instruments, sports goods and other products direct from Pakistan instead of importing the same from the US, the UK, Germany and other European countries. He said that the act would financially benefit his country and also enhance the direct trade between Pakistan and Kenya.

He said that Kenya would soon hold single country trade and industrial exhibitions of Pakistani products in Kenya, adding that now Kenya had well-established banking channels to facilitate the foreign investors. He said that the advanced banking system would also help ensure the flow of maximum foreign investment to Kenya.

He also assured the Sialkot exporters of removing all the trade hurdles from the promotion of bilateral trade.

The Kenyan HC said that both the countries have been enjoying cordial trade relations and it was high time to further strengthen the same. He discussed the matters of mutual interest and invited the Sialkot business community to divert its business activities to Kenya besides exploring and capturing the Kenyan and African international trade markets.

He agreed with SCCI proposal regarding regular exchange of mutual trade delegations between Pakistan and Kenya and early provision of advanced information about Kenyan trade and industrial exhibition. He said that there were bright opportunities of setting ventures in different trade fields between the Kenyan and Pakistani companies.

Kenyan Commercial Counselor Filimona Wambulwa , acting SCCI president Sarfraz Butt, former SVPs Mian Muhammad Anwar, Mir Alamgir Meyer and Chairperson SCCI Committee for Women Entrepreneurs Syed Shabina Gillani were also present.

During his welcome address, the acting president of SCCI said that Kenya and Pakistan enjoy most cordial relations, which provide strong ground to strengthen trade economic cooperation. He said that trade between Kenya and Pakistan has been growing steadily. However, the true trade potential between the two countries is yet to be exploited for which we need to diversify product range as presently, rice, tea, cereals and cotton are the major commodities of trade between the two countries. It is encouraging to note that the two countries are working on developing new strategy to enhance trade and diversify the range of trade products, he added.

He mentioned that although the Sialkot made products are in great demand in Kenya but due to lack of understanding and weak private sector linkages, these products reach Kenya through indirect supply sources resulting in higher price and extra delivery time.

He said that there was a need to create mutual understanding between business communities to establish direct contact to improve trade.

He suggested for active engagements of Kenya and Pakistan chambers which could act as resource base for exchanging information.

Exchange of trade delegations and holding of joint trade exhibitions would also serve the cause. It is also essential that the process of trade between both the countries might be simplified and duties on exports of surgical instruments, leather products, sports goods and textile Items may be reduced and Pakistan may reciprocate for major products coming from Kenya.

Earlier, the high commissioner visited several leading industrial units in Sialkot. He witnessed the international standard craftsmanship of Sialkot based artisans and highly hailed the unique export culture of Sialkot. the Kenyan envoy said that the Sialkot exporters had enough potential to explore and capture the Kenyan and African international trade markets.