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Kenya to press for increased trade with Britain

Uhuru Kenyatta

I want to welcome the Right Honourable Prime Minister Theresa May to our vibrant continent, and to our beautiful country, Kenya.   We are pleased that you honoured our invitation to come and see for yourself how our country and continent have changed over nearly four decades since the last UK Prime Minister visited, and glad that you brought with you a high-powered delegation of business leaders.  Karibu sana.

Kenya and the United Kingdom have a long history of friendship. In speech, in government, in finance, in outlook, and in our interests, we still show the influence of our strong history.  Because of this, our priorities ought to be clear — we wish to prosper together, so let us do business together, we have democracy in common, so let us defend it together — as for our common enemies, let us fight them together.

As government, we have held meetings with the Prime Minister and her delegation, and later today we will be meeting business leaders from both sides as a business forum.

The bond of friendship and cooperation between our two countries has been deepened today, with the signing of several agreements.

One is a Security Compact that has led to increased support from Britain, with equipment to enhance border and aviation security, capacity building and information sharing between our two countries.

Second is the Framework on the Return of Assets from proceeds of corruption and crimes in Kenya. Some of you may be aware that we already signed this agreement with the Switzerland. And we are glad that the UK is now fully on board.

Fighting corruption is an important aspect of my legacy programme, together with the unity of the country and attainment of the Big Four centred around investment in housing, manufacturing, food security and universal health. Depriving people the proceeds of their crimes is one major deterrent against this vice, and we are determined to make it painful, unrewarding and expensive to get involved in corruption.

As I have said in other fora, there is no turning back. We also had occasion to discuss other matters of bilateral interest, including market access to the United Kingdom after Brexit. We are keen that the current duty-free quota for Kenyan exports continues.

With the UK and the broader Commonwealth, Kenya will be pressing for an increase in exports on the basis of a fair market, and for the mutual win-win arrangements. We also agreed to continue cooperation in security matters, and in the war against terrorism. As you know, this is an area the UK and ourselves have worked closely on, and as a result, we have seen a diminishing of terrorist threats in a region that still remains vulnerable.

We welcome renewed UK commitment to support Amisom, and call on other members of the international community to also support this important mission at the vanguard of security in the region.

Let me also speak of our shared commitment to grow opportunities for the youth of our countries.  In Kenya, we have committed to increasing opportunities within our vocational training colleges, and we have asked the UK for support in ensuring that this is a success.  With a huge young population, our focus has to be ensuring that the youth are a dividend.

Lastly, we encourage the British investors to look at the opportunities within our Big Four programme. They are immense. And, considering the returns from markets such as ours, any investment here is guaranteed to benefit both the investors and ourselves. These opportunities are also there within our Blue Economy.

We have agreed on how the UK government can support our Blue Economy conference in November. But let me say that these will include landing facilities for deep sea fishing, ship building facilities, fish processing and packaging facilities in Kisumu, Homa Bay, Lamu, Malindi, Msambweni and Mombasa.

Let me once again thank the Prime Minister, Theresa May for visiting, and look forward to continuing to strengthen our relations. I now invite the Honourable Prime Minister to make her statement.  – Speech read by President Uhuru Kenyatta at the official visit of UK Prime Minister Theresa May at State House, Nairobi, yesterday.

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