Kenya’s candidate for General Director of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Amina Mohamed attends the General Council meeting during the WTO Director General election process, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Geneva, Switzerland July 16, 2020. WTO/Jay Louvion/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
Kenya plans to diversify its export products in order to eliminate its trade deficit, a government official said on Monday.
Wilfred Marube, CEO, Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA) told a virtual meeting that for the past five years imports have exceeded exports by an average three times.
“We have identified 19 priority products that we can export to the rest of the world in order to bridge the trade deficit,” Marube said during the webinar on fostering partnerships and synergy in export promotion and nation branding.
The government’s marketing agency said that it has set a target of increasing exports by 6.5 percent annually.
Marube added that the priority products are in the agricultural, livestock and manufacturing sectors.
He revealed that moving forward, the country will concentrate marketing efforts on 22 countries that have the greatest potential to purchase additional Kenyan goods.
The official noted that the priority countries collectively account for about 80 percent of local products exported and hence already exposed to Kenyan goods.
Johnson Weru, principal secretary, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Enterprise Development said that the government will work closely with partners in order to reduce the challenges faced by exporters in the international markets.
Weru said that the country’s exports are expected to rebound in 2021, assuming that key destination countries are able to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Jaswinder Bedi, chairman of KEPROBA said that horticulture textile and petroleum exports have been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bedi said that Kenya will encourage investors to set up manufacturing plants to help the country reduce its overdependence on imports.
“We should take advantage of the enormous supply of raw materials in order to build a sustainable export base,” he added.
Ludmila Azo, Kenya country director of International Trade Center, said that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should be supported in order to participate in international trade.Azo observed that SMEs are well placed to take advantage of the growing global consumer demand for green and organic products.