Kenya-Malaysia bilateral ties poised to deepen -High Commissioner

Kenya-Malaysia bilateral ties poised to deepen -High Commissioner

KUALA LUMPUR: Kenya-Malaysia bilateral ties are poised to deepen and widen as both countries are pursuing a reinvigorated engagement on a number of areas of cooperation aimed at strengthening relations, said Kenya’s High Commissioner to Malaysia Francis Ndegwa Muhoro.

Muhoro said in sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya is a key market for Malaysia while pointing out that there is significant potential for the two countries to expand bilateral trade and investments.

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

“In sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya is a key market for Malaysia. For instance, in 2021 Kenya was ranked Malaysia’s 4th largest trading partner in Africa. However, on the other hand, Kenya’s exports to Malaysia are still very low,“ he told Bernama in an interview recently.

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.

Speaking on bilateral trade between Kenya and Malaysia, the High Commissioner said the growth was very positive as it increased by 81 per cent in 2021.

“There are more and more Malaysian companies and businessmen who have expressed immense interest in setting up businesses in Kenya. Kenya is also looking to diversify its market base for its exports,“ he said.

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

“For instance, in August this 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.

In 2021, Kenya’s exports to Malaysia amounted to Ksh. 2,026,144,634 while imports amounted to Ksh.10,333,864,165.

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.

When asked whether currently there are any ongoing investment proposals between Kenya and Malaysia, Muhoro said there were among others in the areas of health, renewable energy, fertiliser and agro-chemicals, telecommunication and fibre optic.

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, he said.

Replying to a questions on what new areas of cooperation both countries could explore further, Muhoro pointed out that Kenya and Malaysia have high potential to enhance cooperation in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), renewable energy, blue economy and environmental protection.

“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,“ he further said.

Speaking on what would be his message to both Kenyan and Malaysian business communities, Muhoro who is also accredited to Brunei Darussalam said that Kenya’s position as the economic, commercial and logistical hub in Eastern and Central Africa places the country as one of the best investment destinations globally.

He further 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 expropriation of such property without compensation.

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

“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.

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,“ said Muhoro.

Muhoro also noted the first Kenya-Malaysia bilateral consultative meeting 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 senior officials level with the second session scheduled to be held in Malaysia in the first quarter of 2023.

Asked how he would describe Malaysia-Kenya bilateral ties since the establishment of diplomatic ties, 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 a number of 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 which 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,“ Muhoro said.

Asked whether it is high time for both countries to embark on high-level political visits to further strengthen bilateral ties, Muhoro has this to say:

“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 to pave way for more vibrant engagements to advance the bilateral relations to higher levels of strategic interest”.

-Bernama

Pix credit – Kenya Embassy Malaysia Facebook

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