Inside Politics

Ruto seals Ksh120b trade deals in Korea

Friday, November 25th, 2022 05:40 | By
Ruto seals Ksh120b trade deals in Korea
President William Ruto and South Korean Head of State Yoon Suk Yeol toast to stronger ties between the nations. This was during Ruto’s three-day tour of the South East Asian nation. COURTESY/PPS

Kenya and South Korea have agreed on a roadmap to a free trade agreement between them. In bilateral talks between South Korean Trade minister Dukgeun Ahn and his Kenyan counterpart Moses Kuria, the two parties agreed to enter into negotiations on this with immediate effect.

Even as negotiations continue, the two ministers agreed to conclude a Trade and Investment Promotion Framework that will be signed by January 31 next year. The deal will address the challenges that hinder the smooth flow of trade, especially on Kenyan products such as coffee, tea, avocados and avocado products, cut flowers, nuts and fresh vegetables.

 Trade imbalance

The Trade and Investment Promotion Framework is expected to address the trade imbalance that hugely favours South Korea, whose exports’ worth to Kenya stands at $500 million (Sh60 billion), compared with Kenya’s exports of $25 million (Sh3 billion).

The two ministers agreed to work together to establish a framework of cooperation between the Kenya Exports Promotion and Branding Agency (Keproba) and the Korean Trade Agency (Kotra) that will involve technical support, the opening of a Kenya International Trade Agency office in Seoul and the establishment of Kenyan warehouses in Seoul and Busan to sell local goods.

Kenya further invited Korean companies to participate in the Kenya International Investment Conference in Nairobi in the first quarter of next year.

The meeting between the two ministers was a follow-up to an earlier summit between President William Ruto and his host, South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yool, in Seoul on Wednesday, November 23.

After this meeting, Kenya secured Sh120 billion ($1 billion) from South Korea to support various development projects. The money will go to health, ICT and agriculture programmes, technical and vocational education, Sagana Industrial Park, affordable housing, energy, infrastructure and urban transport, Mombasa’s Dongo Kundu and Naivasha economic zones.

Speaking at Yongsan President’s Office in Seoul when he held talks with his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk Yeol, President Ruto appreciated the support under an economic co-operation framework.

Stimulate development

He said the agreement would stimulate Kenya’s rapid economic development plan through manufacturing, agro-processing and value addition.

Kenya will also work with South Korea to develop manufacturing plants at the Konza Technopolis, an export promotion zone dedicated to pharmaceutical manufacturing, vaccine production, and value addition in agriculture.

 The two Heads of State also agreed to partner in green energy, security and development of the Nairobi Intelligent Transport System and Bus Rapid Transit network to decongest the city.

President Yeol said the Government of South Korea would help Kenya manage the effects of drought.

At the same time, President Ruto said his government would support South Korea in setting up a cultural centre in Kenya. He said this would promote the Korean language and enhance ties between the two countries.

The centre would also benefit Kenyans selected for further studies, training and work in Korea and those “identified for deployment under the Employment Permit System in Korea,” President Ruto said.

President Ruto had a busy schedule on the second day of a three-day official visit to the South East Asian nation. He started the day with a  meeting with the Speaker of the Korean National Assembly, Kim Jin Pyo. Later, he was the chief guest at the Kenya-South Korea business forum.

He also laid a wreath at a Seoul national cemetery where Korean veterans who died in the Korean independence movement and the Korean and Vietnam wars, are buried. 

Four South African presidents are also buried at the cemetery. In the evening, the Korean leader hosted a dinner in honour of President Ruto.

The last function in President Ruto’s diary was an evening service at the Myunsung Presbyterian Church outside Seoul. Ruto also witnessed the signing of a memorandum between the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Korea Institute of Procurement. The pact is on animal feed production, cheaper fertiliser and health equipment.

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