x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAE is once again top exporter to Kenya

Exports from the UAE to Kenya surged nearly 72 per cent last year, helping the Emirates to surpass China and India to reclaim its position as the largest exporter to the East African country.

Tourists watch keepers feed milk to orphaned baby elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi. EPA
Tourists watch keepers feed milk to orphaned baby elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi. EPA

Exports from the UAE to Kenya surged nearly 72 per cent last year, helping the Emirates to surpass China and India to reclaim its position as the largest exporter to the East African country.

The value of exports from the Emirates reached 199 billion Kenyan shillings (Dh8.67bn) last year, almost 72 per cent higher than in the previous year, boosted in part by an increase in oil prices, according to figures from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

Oil accounts for the vast majority of the UAE's exports to Kenya.

"High international prices coupled with a weakened Kenya shilling contributed to the high prices," says a report published by KNBS.

Total demand for petroleum products in Kenya last year was 3.94 million tonnes, 1.9 per cent more than in 2010, the report states. In 2010, China was the biggest exporter to Kenya.

There is an imbalance in trade between the UAE and Kenya.

Kenya's exports to the UAE are substantially lower, with goods that include tea, coffee, fruits and nuts, vegetables and fish totalling 18.85 billion shillings in 2010.

Globally, tea is Kenya's biggest export, followed by horticultural products and coffee.

Although investment flows into Kenya from the UAE have been relatively limited, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has supported some infrastructure projects in Kenya with grants and loans.

The UAE's Ministry of Economy has said that the Emirates' investment in Africa is expected to increase significantly in the coming years as the UAE continues its economic diversification efforts. The sectors it is interested in developing on the continent include infrastructure, energy, mining, transport and mobile communications, it has said.

In November, Kenya and the UAE signed an agreement to avoid double taxation - part of efforts to develop economic relations between the two countries. All of the UAE's national carriers would be exempt from taxes on commercial profits, according to the agreement.

Kenya has highlighted on a number of occasions that it is keen to attract more investment from the UAE in projects including infrastructure. Tourism and aviation links between Kenya and the UAE have also been strengthened lately.

Last month, Etihad Airways introduced flights between Abu Dhabi and Nairobi. These are expected to enjoy strong demand from passengers travelling between Africa and northern Asia, given the levels of Chinese investment in Africa.

"This new route services the considerable and growing flow of people and capital between Kenya and North Asia, with major Chinese investment in Africa generating passenger demand in both directions," James Hogan,the president and chief executive of Etihad, said at the time of the launch.

Kenya Airways is also hoping to increase its flights between Dubai and Nairobi, once it secures more aircraft.

"In the recent past, Kenya and the UAE have become important trading partners," said Abraham Joseph,the Middle East and Pakistan area manager for Kenya Airways.

"In addition to being the major supplier of oil to Kenya, the UAE has emerged as a favoured destination to which Kenyans travel regularly to purchase household and office electronic appliances [and] automobile spare parts," he added. "Moreover, all the latest economic data indicates that the continent of Africa is the next growth area; this is because of the new-found wealth in terms of minerals, precious metals, natural gas and oil in many countries."

The number of visitors to Kenya, from the UAEin particular, has been increasing, whereas visitor numbers from Europe have declined as parts of the continent have been hit by economic crisis.

During the first quarter of this year, the number of travellers from the Emirates increased more than 14 per cent. Meanwhile, the number of visitors from Italy, France and Germany fell sharply.

rbundhun@thenational.ae

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