President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday asked China to give preferential treatment to goods from Africa as it continues opening up its vast market to the rest of the world.
The Head of State urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to put in place measures to proactively raise the volume of goods coming from the African continent to China. He said China can start by reducing tariffs on specific goods so that more traders from countries such as Kenya can access the vast Chinese market of 1.4 billion people.
While acknowledging China’s leading role in the Kenyan economy as a trading partner, the President called for increased Chinese investments in the country. “China now ranks as the number one trading partner with Kenya accounting for 17.2 per cent of Kenya’s total trade with the World,” Uhuru said when he delivered a keynote address at the inaugural China International Import Expo being held in Shanghai.
The trade fair is being attended by representatives from more than 130 countries keen to explore the new opportunities being offered by an open China. Besides Uhuru and Jinping other leaders who spoke at the opening ceremony were Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
Uhuru said Kenya is open and safe for business, adding: “Kenya has one of the most conducive business environments in Africa”. Uhuru also asked China to put in place measures to support Africa to meet sanitary and phytosanitary regulations to facilitate more access for agricultural goods to its market.
“To facilitate increased exports for African Agricultural products, China may consider providing technical assistance to Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary institutions in Africa to enable them comply with Chinese standards and other international requirements,” said the President.
Uhuru also urged more Chinese nationals to patronise the rich biodiversity that make Kenya a favourite destination for millions of tourists from around the world.
He invited more Chinese firms, in addition to the 200 already operating in the country, to form joint ventures with Kenyans and to set up more manufacturing bases to create jobs for local citizens.
“We would like to see Chinese firms manufacturing in Africa and exporting to the rest of the world,” he said. Uhuru said he expects the more than 100 traders who accompanied him to the expo to clinch important deals. The traders are mainly from the services, food and agricultural sectors.
The President said China is currently Kenya’s largest trading partner with the volume of trade surpassing the $4 billion last year. He said Africa shares China’s vision of shared prosperity and open business.
President Xi said the expo is part of China’s deliberate attempt to share its wealth with the rest of the world through opening access to its vast market. He said China intends to increase the purchasing power of its 1.4 billion people as it increases efforts to open up its market.
Jinping said China will lead the fight for open markets even as some big economies exhibit isolationist and protectionist tendencies. He said China will broaden market access, reduce tariffs for goods entering and increase measures to protect the rights of foreign investors.