President Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Narendra Modi today led their delegations in bilateral talks geared towards bolstering cooperation between Kenya and India. The two leaders discussed ways of stepping up partnerships for the benefit of the people of their countries in several areas including combating terrorism, drug and human trafficking, health, energy, technology, agriculture, education, capacity building and trade.
In a bold move to bridge the balance of trade that exists, President Kenyatta pitched for India to improve market access for Kenyan products with high demand in India such as leather products and pulses. “I requested India to consider extending the project targeting African cotton growing countries to Kenya as this will help to increase cotton production,” President Kenyatta said.
The President was speaking on Tuesday during a joint press briefing with Prime Minister Modi atHyderabad House, New Delhi, after the bilateral talks. President Kenyatta also urged India to review its trade policies to ensure Kenyan goods were not at disadvantage in relation to other East African exports.
He said Kenya is keen to increase the volume and value of its exports to India through shifting its export base from agricultural and mineral based raw materials to value added manufactured products. “And we are seeking partnerships with India in technology transfer to increase our capacity to add value to our natural products,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta also encouraged the Joint Trade Committees of both countries to continue meeting and identifying feasible ways to enhance bilateral trade. “I believe that opening up and expanding trade and investment opportunities in our two countries will provide avenues for our youth to be meaningfully engaged and contribute to the noble venture of nation building and poverty eradication,” President Kenyatta said.
Prime Minister Modi commended President Kenyatta, saying his leadership has inspired confidence in Indian investors. He noted that in the last three year, investment by Indian companies in Kenya has increased by $ 3.5 billion as a result of the business reforms spearheaded by President Kenyatta.
The Prime Minister also cited sports as an area where the two countries could cooperate to boost relations, saying Kenya could coach Indian Athletes while India trained Kenyans in cricket.
“Kenya produces good athletes while India prides itself in being a global cricket powerhouse,” Prime Minister Modi said.
To further attract investors to Kenya, President Kenyatta said his Government is establishing special economic zones in Mombasa and along the Standard gauge railway.
He invited Indian investors to take advantage of the infrastructure that the Government of Kenya has laid down including the modern port of Mombasa.
At the multilateral level, President Kenyatta and Prime Minister Modi signaled their collaboration on matters that affect their countries.
“We are both committed to reforming and strengthening the United Nations Security Council. And in this respect, I sought the Prime Minister’s support for the African position that genuinely seeks a Security Council that is representative and takes into account the 21st century realities,” President Kenyatta said.
On health, President Kenyatta observed that Kenya relies heavily on generic anti-retroviral drugs manufactured in India.
He said ensuring that the drugs are available to people infected with HIV/AIDS is a top priority for his Government and thanked India for donating a consignment of anti-retroviral drugs to Kenya.
The President said Kenya would greatly benefit from collaboration in transfer of technology from investment by Indian pharmaceuticals given the large market and demand for the drugs in the region.
During the bilateral meeting, the two countries signed a Line of Credit Agreement worth $100 million for agricultural mechanization in Kenya and a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation to improve the agricultural sector.
President Kenyatta expressed confidence that the agreement and Memorandum of Understanding signed will provide a further framework for collaboration.
“I request both sides to immediately work on their implementation. I acknowledge the progress being made in areas previously agreed on and look forward to collaboration in new areas like tourism,” the President said, adding: “Talks mean nothing without implementation.”
Noting that the two countries granted increased frequencies to each other for their respective airlines in 2015, the President encouraged the airlines to exploit the infrastructure laid down by the Bilateral Air Services Agreement to increase connectivity and mobility of people.
Later, President Kenyatta met Indian Vice President Hamad Ansari who paid him a courtesy call.
Tomorrow, President Kenyatta and Prime Minister Modi will chair the Kenya-India business which will offer business people from the two countries a further avenue to network and explore investment opportunities.