Kenya’s Minister of Trade and Industry Moses Kuria said that Africa, and his country in particular, would not allow its resources to be exploited in the US-Chinese trade war.
He noted that Kenya looked forward to strengthening economic ties with Saudi Arabia by reviving axes of cooperation.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Kuria said that his recent visit to the Kingdom saw the signing of two agreements to increase bilateral trade and investments, which included the establishment of a joint business council and an e-commerce platform.
“In my discussions with the Saudis, I found vital ways to better bridge cooperation between the two countries, and we agreed to increase trade exchange, which amounts to $1.5 billion,” he underlined.
The Kenyan official pointed to his fruitful meetings with Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi, Minister of Commerce, Engineer Khaled Al-Falih, Minister of Investment, and Yasser Al-Rumayyan, CEO of the Public Investment Fund, as well as the heads of huge companies, such as Aramco, SABIC, Maaden and Aqua Power.
“Two agreements were signed to stimulate trade and launch commercial zones between a number of regions of the Kingdom in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam,” the minister revealed, adding that the agreements also sought to attract Saudi investments in Africa and launch cooperation in banking.
He expected his country to market Saudi products, such as petrochemicals and fertilizers, not only to Kenya, but also to promising African markets with a population of about 1.3 billion.
The logistics services center in Mombasa is one of the most important achievements of the Saudi-Kenyan agreements, Kuria emphasized, adding: “We are about to discover great opportunities and new areas for qualitative cooperation between the two countries.”
Expanding economic cooperation
The Kenyan Minister of Trade and Industry met with the Saudi business sector at the headquarters of the Federation of Saudi Chambers, where he discussed series of proposals to strengthen and develop his country’s economic ties with the Kingdom.
Those include the establishment of a joint business council, an e-commerce platform, an economic cooperation committee, and incentives for Saudi companies to invest in special economic zones, infrastructure and energy projects in Kenya.
Kuria stressed the importance of establishing a joint Saudi-Kenyan committee for trade and investment cooperation, calling on Saudi companies to invest in electricity, water, roads, housing, communications, mining, financial center, hotels, airports, animal production projects, and others.
Stimulating development opportunities
The Kenyan minister told Asharq Al-Awsat that he discussed with the Executive Director of the Operations Sector of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), Eng. Faisal Al-Qahtani, the Kingdom’s efforts to support development projects and programs in his country, with the aim of achieving sustainable development goals.
Saudi Arabia has provided, through the SFD, 13 projects and development programs in the transportation, communications, energy, agriculture, health and water sectors since 1978, through soft development loans with a total value exceeding $163 million, in addition to a grant provided by Riyadh to Nairobi through the Fund.
Kuria said he reviewed with the Federation of Saudi Chambers ways to develop systems and legislation, closely identify the needs of the private sector, and work to enhance the confidence of merchants and consumer protection.
He emphasized the most important challenges facing the private sector with regard to the implementation of technical regulations and standards and obtaining a certificate of conformity and a quality mark.
The US-Chinese trade war
Commenting on the US-Chinese race to acquire investment shares in African economic resources, Kuria stressed that African countries, including Kenya, have economic and investment relations with both Washington and Beijing, as is the case with other states in the world.
The minister said he believed that Washington’s prioritization of Africa in its policies, as seen in the recent American-African summit, was built on the huge natural and human potential available in the African Continent.
Similarly, Kuria noted that China found important economic and investment opportunities in African countries, expecting many Chinese companies to enter African markets with the aim to increase investments in the continent.
“There are no limits to African cooperation with China and America,” he said.
He continued: “Africa’s interest requires dealing with everyone without subjecting its will to one party at the expense of another.”
He stressed that the common objective was the exchange of interests and expertise, and benefiting from the capabilities available to all sides.
Kuria said that the world should deal with African countries according to the developments of the stage, as the continent is no longer just a bloc occupied by crises and diseases.
The world has finally discovered that Africa is very rich economically and enjoys great, diversified and vital investment opportunities thanks to its vast fertile lands and abundant water suitable for the largest agricultural and food production in the world, he underlined.