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Kenya-Malaysia Market Opportunities

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KUALA LUMPUR: In Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya is a key trading partner of Malaysia and there is significant potential for the two countries to expand bilateral trade and investments.

There are immense opportunities for both countries in agro-processing value addition, manufacturing, ICT, tourism as well as cooperation in the field of sports. Kenya is renowned for producing world-class runners.

Kenya’s High Commissioner to Malaysia Francis Ndegwa Muhoro said the country is one of the best investment destinations globally being an economic, commercial and logistical hub in Eastern and Central Africa Region.

In pursuit of the economic pillar of Kenya’s Foreign Policy, the High Commission has been facilitating linkages between potential investors in Malaysia and key industry players in Kenya, and vice versa.

Speaking on bilateral trade between Kenya and Malaysia, Muhoro said both countries are pursuing a reinvigorated engagement in many areas of cooperation aimed at strengthening the bilateral and trade relations of the two sister nations.

“There are an increased number of Malaysian companies and businessmen who have expressed immense interest in setting up businesses in Kenya. Kenya is looking to diversify its market base for its export.

“For instance, in 2021 Kenya was ranked Malaysia’s 4th largest trading partner in Africa. The growth was very positive as it increased by 81 per cent in 2021.”

Some of the exports to Malaysia included tea, coffee, dates, figs, pineapples and niobium. Some of the imports from Malaysia include palm oil, oil, machines, lamps and furniture.

The East African country is currently pursuing market access for its horticulture products. The horticulture sector which involves the cultivation of among others fruits, vegetables and flowers, is one of the leading agriculture subsectors in Kenya, a country with some 55 million people.

Muhoro said in August last year, a team from Malaysia visited Kenya to carry out a pest risk analysis on avocados.

“We are also working on bringing Kenyan livestock and meat products to Malaysia. Talks on this are at an advanced stage as part of our trade facilitation efforts,”

Muhoro said there are also ongoing investment proposals between Kenya and Malaysia, among others in the areas of health, renewable energy, fertiliser and agrochemicals, telecommunication and fibre optic.

Muhoro also pointed out that Kenya and Malaysia have a high potential to enhance cooperation in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), renewable energy, blue economy and environmental protection.

“Therefore, I urge the Malaysian business community to take advantage of the investment-friendly government policies, inexpensive but educated labour force, well-developed infrastructure and emerging high technology and digital platforms.”

It is worth mentioning that there will be an outbound Kenya-Malaysia Trade Mission in Nairobi starting from the 13th – 17th March 2023.

He also stressed that Kenya enjoys political stability and a favourable investment environment which is supported by the Constitution which protects private property and provides safeguards against the expropriation of such property without compensation.

“Kenya’s investment climate is the strongest in the East Africa Community (EAC), with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flowing in from emerging and developed markets and a high number of multinational companies with regional and continental-wide headquartered in the country.”

Kenya has a designated agency – Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) tasked with the responsibility of answering all investment-related queries including the facilitation of incorporating a company in the country.

It is imperative to note that Kenya is a host to the only United Nations (UN) head office in the global South, United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). On this front, Kenya will be pursuing enhanced cooperation with Malaysia to strengthen the UN headquarters in Nairobi.”

Muhoro said the first Kenya-Malaysia bilateral consultative meeting was held in Nairobi in early 2022, which he described as having explored pathways to enhance bilateral cooperation and that “we are reaping the fruits of the positive outcome of the meeting”.

Muhoro also said that the inauguration of the Kenya-Malaysia Bilateral Consultative Mechanism (BCM) was poised to catapult bilateral ties to higher levels as it provides a platform for annual consultations at the senior officials level. Plans are underway to have the second Bilateral Consultative Meeting in the second quarter of  this year, in Kuala Lumpur.

Nairobi and Kuala Lumpur established diplomatic relations in 1965. Kenya established its resident mission in 1996, while Malaysia established its resident High Commission in Nairobi in 2005.

Muhoro said bilateral relations have been very warm and cordial and this can be attested by their common shared positions in the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the Group of 15 (G-15) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

He said Kenya and Malaysia have concluded, signed and are implementing several agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) in areas of mutual interests and these frameworks of cooperation outline areas and scope of their engagements for mutual benefit.

“The warm and fraternal relations are buttressed by the increasingly positive growth in trade and investment, cooperation in multilateral fora as well as capacity building through the Malaysia Technical Cooperation Programme.”

This affords the citizens of the two countries a platform to learn and share experiences and best practices on a wide range of issues such as infrastructural development as well as Small and Medium Enterprise Development.

“High-level visits are the cornerstone of strong bilateral relations. Both Kenya and Malaysia are desirous of strengthening relations.

“I am very optimistic that we will see these high-level visits pave way for more vibrant engagements to advance the bilateral relations to higher levels of strategic interest.”

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