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Kenya, Ethiopia business leaders pursue bilateral trade pact

BUSINESS leaders in Kenya and Ethiopia have pledged to push their respective governments to implement a bilateral trade agreement signed in 2012.
The leaders who met in Nairobi on Thursday said implementation of the Special Status Agreement was key to growing trade between the countries.
According to the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, the country “has a strong interest in the implementation of the SSA”, which will eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers in trade between the two countries.
It is also expected to improve market access between them, increasing the flow of goods and services.
KAM has partnered with the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to spearhead bilateral talks, in the wake of increasing industrial competition from the north-neighbouring country.
“We anticipate that the co-operation will open up better opportunities for local businesses in Ethiopia and vice versa,” KAM CEO Phyllis Wakiaga said in a statement last Friday.
Ethiopian business delegation was led by its Foreign Affairs minister Regassa Kefelew.
Analysts have projected that Ethiopia is likely to become a leading investment hub for global manufacturing companies eyeing Africa due to its investments in infrastructure projects and lower electricity costs.
Kenya’s north-neighbouring country, Africa’s second largest by population, has since the turn of the decade concentrated on upgrading its railway transportation services.
The 756-kilometre standard gauge railway from capital Addis Ababa to Port of Djibouti – commissioned in 2011– is on trial use, while the 17 km Addis light rail mass transit system started operations on September 20, last year.
“Opportunities for peer learning through projects such as the tram and the standard gauge railway in Ethiopia and Kenya will set us on a path to economic sustainability for both nations,” Wakiaga said.
Kenyan companies have been keen on expanding into Ethiopia under the agreement.
Last year, Kenya Commercial Bank announced it had received a licence to open a representative office in Ethiopia, which has previously heavily restricted foreign investors from venturing into telecommunication, banking, retail, insurance and electricity sectors.
Kenya is banking on the bilateral engagements and improvement of infrastructure, which includes the Marsabit- Moyale road to grow trade opportunities into Ethiopia.
The value of trade between the two countries increased from Sh2.2 billion in 2004 to Sh7.4 billion in 2014, KNCCI CEO Matanda Wabuyele said.

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