UAE targets Kenya in new chamber partnership


Trade and investment between Kenya and the United Arab Emirates is set for a major boost after chambers of commerce from the two countries reached a new agreement.

The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry have signed an MoU to open a satellite trade office in the United Arab Emirates.

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The agreement will enable and provide strategic bilateral cooperation between the business communities in Kenya and UAE with an objective to foster cooperation in trade, investment, joint activities, information and services and trade policy support programmes.

The agreement was announced at the UAE-Kenya Trade and Investment Forum where Kenya hosted a delegation of over 20 top companies from the United Arab Emirates.

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The Forum organized by Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry included various companies operating in manufacturing and industrial sectors.

“The main goal of our delegation’s visit is to express Sharjah’s interest in boosting its investments in Kenya to leverage the high growth rate of Kenyan economy and to bolster the priority sectors within the economic agenda of Kenyan Government,” said Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, Chairman, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

According to the chairman, most notable areas of investment includes health, population, industry, food security, and agriculture sectors, as well as information technology projects, thanks to the distinctive experience of the leading Emirati firms investing in these vital sectors.

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Kenyan businesses had the opportunity to interact with the UAE delegation as they sought to form synergies with the Kenyan counterparts on the backdrop of the growing business between the two countries.

The official visit to Kenya was organized as part of the chamber’s strategy to find and develop marketing opportunities for local industries in promising foreign and African markets, and especially in the markets of Kenya and Uganda.

Richard Ngatia, National President, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce (KNCCI), said: “Kenya attaches great importance to this event, given Kenya’s status as a leading services destination and regional manufacturing hub. Economic relations between Kenya and the United Arab Emirates have grown exponentially since the two countries restored diplomatic ties further deepening economic cooperation which presents important opportunities for both countries.”

Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized the forum to help businesses in the two countries find their product fit and encourage more investment and trade.

Kenya’s ambassador Johnson Weru noted that cooperation between Kenyan and the UAE presents excellent investment opportunities around the Big 4 agenda that seeks to grow manufacturing, housing, health and food security.

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The Kenyan government has already proposed plans to relax laws relating to legal documents including visas to support ease of doing business between the two markets.

Abdullah Sultan Al Owais said there are plenty of mutual benefits for both the UAE and Kenya.

“It would be no exaggeration to say the UAE and Kenya have great potential and enormous opportunities for cooperation between businessmen and investors in both countries. This would help serve the interest of business communities if these opportunities are properly harnessed and work is continued to establish strategic partnerships,” he said.

Sharjah accounts for nearly one-third of the UAE’s entire manufacturing sector, which alone accounts for almost 16 per cent of the Gulf states GDP.

The non-oil trade volume between the UAE and Kenya has witnessed a qualitative leap over the past years to reach the US$2 billion in 2017-2018, a growth rate of about 37 per cent over previous years. This growth was accompanied by an increase in the trade exchange of plastic products and re-export operations from the UAE to Kenya.

“Kenya’s private sector will continue to engage with the UAE business community and moving forward, we will continue to advance each other’s economies,”  Ngatia said.

The UAE Kenya Trade and Investment Forum is part of the UAE’s trade mission in Kenya where bilateral meetings will be held between businesspeople from both sides.

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Martin Mwita is a business reporter based in Kenya. He covers equities, capital markets, trade and the East African Cooperation markets.

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